Unleashing PERMA for Peak Performance and Sustained Well-Being

Unleashing PERMA for Peak Performance and Sustained Well-Being

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D., ACPEC

In the hustle-bustle of our daily lives, achieving a harmonious balance between professional success and personal well-being can often feel like an elusive goal. We’re constantly searching for that magic formula that not only boosts our performance at work but also nurtures our overall happiness and fulfillment. Enter PERMA – an acronym coined by Seligman, representing five essential elements that contribute to a flourishing life. Let’s unpack how embracing PERMA can serve as a compass for navigating the journey toward peak performance and sustainable well-being. 

 “Focusing on performance alone and not well-being negatively impacts performance in the long run. Similar to cars and heeding our mind-body connection, peak performance is made possible and longer-lasting when attention is devoted to both well-being and performance. There’s an inextricable link between performance and well-being. This is our “why” at Metamorphosis Coaching, to focus on growing both for optimal impact.”  – Dr. Doni 

Positive Emotions (P): Elevate Your Mood

The first element of PERMA, Positive Emotions, emphasizes the importance of cultivating joy, gratitude, and other uplifting feelings in our daily lives. By consciously seeking out and appreciating positive experiences, we can enhance our overall mood and build a reservoir of emotional well-being. Whether it’s relishing a beautiful sunset, expressing gratitude for small victories, or savoring a cup of coffee in the morning, infusing positivity into our routine can lay the foundation for a more fulfilling life.

Engagement (E): Find Your Flow

Engagement involves immersing ourselves in activities that captivate our attention and align with our skills. This state of flow, as psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes it, occurs when we are fully absorbed in a challenging and rewarding task. By identifying our strengths and leveraging them in our professional and personal pursuits, we can achieve a sense of mastery that propels us toward peak performance and fulfillment. It’s about losing track of time because we’re so engrossed in what we’re doing – a sure sign that we’re in the zone.

Relationships (R): Cultivate Meaningful Connections

Human beings are inherently social creatures, and nurturing positive relationships is a crucial aspect of well-being. The ‘R’ in PERMA underscores the significance of building and maintaining meaningful connections with others. Strong social bonds provide emotional support, encouragement, and a sense of belonging. Investing time in relationships, both at work and in our personal lives, contributes not only to our mental health but also enhances our overall life satisfaction. After all, the joy of shared experiences and accomplishments is unparalleled.

Meaning (M): Discover Your Purpose

Leading a meaningful life involves aligning our actions with a greater purpose or cause. It’s about finding significance beyond the mundane tasks and daily grind. By identifying our values and setting goals that resonate with our inner beliefs, we infuse our lives with a sense of direction and purpose. Whether it’s contributing to a cause we’re passionate about or pursuing a career that aligns with our values, the ‘M’ in PERMA encourages us to seek meaning in our endeavors, fostering a deeper connection with our work and lives.

Accomplishment (A): Celebrate Your Achievements

The pursuit of goals and the sense of accomplishment they bring are integral to a flourishing life. Acknowledging our achievements, both big and small, fuels our motivation and self-esteem. The ‘A’ in PERMA prompts us to set realistic goals, break them down into manageable steps, and celebrate our progress along the way. By recognizing our accomplishments, we not only boost our confidence but also create a positive feedback loop that propels us toward future success.

Overall, PERMA serves as a holistic framework for enhancing performance and well-being. By consciously incorporating Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment into our daily lives, we can create a positive spiral that fosters resilience, satisfaction, and a sense of fulfillment. As we navigate the intricate dance between work and personal life, embracing the PERMA model can guide us towards a more balanced, purposeful, and ultimately, flourishing existence. 

Interested in how you may embrace PERMA to amplify your well-being and performance? We have a special 14-session package designed for leaders at all levels. What we cover in these sessions may be applied at work and home, so there’s double the ROI! Topics we’ll cover and implement include forgiveness, gratitude, savoring, building optimism, leveraging strengths and much more.  

To learn more, schedule a call with us:

Systems Expedite Success in 2024

Systems Expedite Success in 2024

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D., ACPEC

Happy New Year and may your 2024 be off to a magnificent start! One way you may get your organization to the next level is through the acquisition of a system to attract star performers. We call this “Hire Right the First Time©” and are excited to roll out a new system to help organizations enhance their hiring and selection processes. Our “why” for offering this service is four-fold:

  1. To help organizations hire high-performing employees
  2. Streamline the hiring process
  3. Reduce turnover
  4. Save money

“Systems are for those who care about winning repeatedly” – James Clear 

“Hire Right the First Time” consists of three steps: an audit of your current system, creating or updating competencies, and using assessments to determine cultural fit and more. For more information on our comprehensive system DOWNLOAD OUR BROCHURE HERE.

Last month we talked about “Knowing Thyself” as the first step every leader must take to be effective. One strategy to this end is through the use of assessments to reveal the big picture of how leaders think, feel and behave. Many organizations use one or two assessments, but few rarely use a cluster to reveal how leaders think, feel, and are motivated to do what they do.

One step of “Hire Right the First Time” includes using three different assessments, powered by Hogan Assessment insights. This trinity of insights reveals a candidate’s motives, values, preferences, personality, strengths, and risks/dark tendencies. For a limited time, we are offering this trio of assessments at a special promotional price. 

To learn more, schedule a call with us. 

Ten Reasons Consistent Celebrating is Necessary for Peak Performance

Ten Reasons Consistent Celebrating is Necessary for Peak Performance

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D., ACPEC

Celebrating serves many important purposes at work and in life, and its significance can be seen in different aspects including social, psychological, and cultural dimensions. This month, when there are many gatherings and social events, from office holiday parties to family gatherings, there’s no better time to practice the art of celebrating. Feeling like celebrating is just a ‘nice to have’ layer in your life? Here are several reasons to rethink and reframe celebrating as a ‘must have’ practice:

  1. Positive Reinforcement: Celebrations often mark achievements, milestones, or positive events. Recognizing and celebrating these moments provide positive reinforcement, motivating individuals or groups to continue their efforts and maintain a positive outlook. As we often share in client sessions, practicing optimism by celebrating helps to invite more positivity. It’s one of the basic laws of the universe, we attract what we give.
  2. Social Bonding: Celebrations bring people together, fostering a sense of community and strengthening social bonds. Whether it’s a family gathering, a cultural festival, or a national holiday, celebrations provide opportunities for people to connect, share experiences, and build relationships.
  3. Cultural Identity: Many celebrations are deeply rooted in cultural traditions and customs. Participating in these events helps individuals connect with their cultural identity, preserving and passing on important traditions to future generations.
  4. Emotional Well-Being: Celebrations contribute to emotional well-being by creating moments of joy, happiness, and shared positive experiences. These events provide a break from routine and can serve as a source of stress relief and mental rejuvenation.
  5. Reflection & Gratitude: Celebrations often prompt reflection on achievements, personal growth, and the positive aspects of life. This reflective process can lead to feelings of gratitude, helping individuals appreciate what they have and fostering a more optimistic mindset. To live a life that is full of celebrations, it’s necessary to celebrate!
  6. Marking Transitions: Celebrations often accompany significant life transitions, such as birthdays, weddings, graduations, and retirements. These events help individuals and communities acknowledge and navigate major life changes, providing closure to one phase and welcoming the next.
  7. Cultural Exchange: Celebrations can provide opportunities for cultural exchange, allowing people to learn about and appreciate different customs, traditions, and perspectives. This fosters mutual understanding and respect among diverse groups.
  8. Motivation & Inspiration: Celebrating achievements, both big and small, can inspire individuals to set new goals and strive for further success. It reinforces the idea that hard work and effort are rewarded and encourages a positive and proactive mindset.
  9. Ritual & Routine: Celebrations often follow a set of rituals and traditions, providing a sense of structure and continuity in people’s lives. These rituals can be comforting and help create a sense of order and predictability.
  10. It Adds Levity to our Otherwise ‘Heavy’ Lives: With change happening more frequently than most can keep pace with, and worldwide events that can add more stress, even when it feels unwelcome, celebrating, can help us to get out of a funk. We even go so far as to encourage our clients to embrace and celebrate failures and reframe them as ways to learn, re-do and become more resilient.

Celebrating plays a crucial role by promoting social connections, fostering positive emotions, preserving cultural identity, and providing moments of reflection and inspiration. It contributes to the overall well-being and cohesion of individuals, teams and communities. December is a great month to ramp up celebrating and practice this one habit of optimism.  Remember to celebrate often and consider journaling daily celebrations for a dramatic shift toward more joy.

Interested in the white paper on how PQ can support your EAPs or are you ready to do something about stress for you and your employees? Schedule your complimentary strategy session here: 

A First Step Leaders Must Do to Effectively Lead

A First Step Leaders Must Do to Effectively Lead!

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D., ACPEC

What happens when inspiration collides with affirmation? Short answer… embrace the opportunity and instinct and act!

As we prepare to roll out a new Hiring and Selection service in early 2024, I was inspired to revisit why it’s important to “Lead Yourself First©” to effectively lead others and drive desired results. Then I attended a 2-day conference and much of this time for developing CEO mindsets was devoted to knowing thyself to grow into a more powerful business owner. A couple of weeks later, a conversation with a colleague took me on a deeper dive into “Know Thyself” to effectively lead others. And then today, in a meeting with a prospective client, the concept of leading yourself to lead others came up again.

Coincidence? No, because it’s true, the first step to being an effective leader, whether you’re the CEO or just emerging into leadership, is to know yourself. When you understand yourself, you can effectively manage and lead yourself. This drives inspiration. And in order to influence for impact, a leader must inspire. We call this “Lead Yourself First©” and it’s all about mastery of personal leadership. Echoing what I shared earlier on a call with a prospective client, performance and well-being are not mutually exclusive. You can only give your best when you are your best and part of that is understanding what makes you tick.

In our soon-to-be-revealed Hiring and Selection Service, assessments are used to glean as much information as possible to determine the right fit for a candidate within an organization. Assessments are the best way to gather this wealth of data. More to come soon on the program we’ll offer and the assessments to gather how a person thinks, feels and is motivated to perform [in the workplace].

By understanding how you think, feel, and are motivated to act, you can predict and regulate the following areas:

1. Values – are the alpha and omega of aligning with your decisions and what motivates you to act. As a leader, it’s critical to understand your core values. When values are not aligned, it is a recipe for conflict, whether it is internal within your mind or external with those in your sphere of influence.

2. Strengths – the acid test of strength is something that is done successfully, repeatedly and happily (the latter because it upholds a value or two in some way and an activity is more likely to be successfully repeated when it is valued and enjoyed). 

3. Triggers/Saboteurs – we all have them and when you can name them, you can tame them. This is where our Positive Intelligence work is implicated. We must tame our saboteurs so they don’t rob us of our performance potential and sustained well-being.

4. Limitations – we all have these as well. And knowing where we’re at risk is crucial. Then it’s helpful to either delegate or outsource so time and money are not wasted.

5. Motivators and Preferences – to work within your genius zone, it’s necessary to understand what drives you and how you prefer to operate. From how you energize, to your communication preferences to how you make decisions and problem-solve, it’s essential to know your style and what motivates you.

There are many ways we can help you Lead Yourself First to Effectively Lead Others. From assessments to experiencing our transformational Positive Intelligence™ program to using our “Lead Yourself First©” interactive card deck, there’s an option for you and your team!

Interested in the white paper on how PQ can support your EAPs or are you ready to do something about stress for you and your employees? Schedule your complimentary strategy session here: 

It’s OK to NOT be OK – and there’s an Inc. 5000 acclaimed solution to the rescue!

It’s OK to NOT be OK – and there’s an Inc. 5000 acclaimed solution to the rescue!

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D., ACPEC

As I sit here pondering thoughts for the kickoff to the last quarter of the year, I cannot help but realize my stress level is a bit higher than it was last month. I’m confident in my self-awareness that it’s because we’re in peak hurricane season here in Southwest Florida, there’s a monster Category 5 storm swirling around in the Atlantic and I and so many in my community are traumatized and have PTSD from Hurricane Ian last year, that wreaked havoc in our paradise. One year later, street signs and business signs are still missing, many traffic signals are also missing, homes have not been renovated or rebuilt, our barrier islands are dramatically changed, and those who flooded like my family, are NERVOUS and a bit ANXIOUS!  

And then the rest of our nation is approaching some frenzy with last quarter revenue goals, the holidays are approaching adding another layer of things to do, and many of the organizations we work with continue to navigate an evolving environment whether they are dipping their toes in the AI pool (stay tuned for an upcoming Executive Leadership Forum on this topic), or striving to settle into normal operations in a hybrid or fully-remote workforce.

How You Show Up for Yourself is How You Show Up for Others

To lead by example, it is critical to show up cheerfully and confidently if you are to inspire. This is one practice from our ‘Lead Yourself First’ system. So, let’s squash the gloom and doom because if and when you are living in the moment, unless that proverbial shark is literally biting you in the butt, it is very difficult to be ‘stressed’. There’s a powerful Asian Proverb I’ve always admired that captures this essence:

Those who live in the past are depressed. Those who live in the future are anxious. Those who live in the present are at peace.

And yet it’s difficult because living in the moment is an art contingent upon a foundation backed by science and built by practice.  

If you’ve been following us for even a few months, you’re probably a little familiar with Positive Intelligence® or PQ for short. PQ is a mental operating system with research grounded in four different fields of science, including neuroscience – with evidence from fMRIs showing the development of new neural pathways when the Mental OS is followed and practiced. I and all of my team are Certified PQ coaches and whenever we begin with a new client, we ‘require’ a foundation in PQ because we know the power it has to clear out the cobwebs, dramatically reduce stress and positively impact performance and relationships. Much of the practice is about disrupting our sabotaging brain bullies that can turn our mind into our worst enemy, crippling performance and productivity, inflicting damage upon our important relationships with others and overall, putting a major dent in happiness and well-being.

But don’t just take my word for it, we are proud to announce that Positive Intelligence® has made the prestigious Inc. 5000 list for 2023, appearing as number 567 on the list. Woohoo! This explosive growth is a testament to the power and transformational potential that PQ affords. Not to say I told you so, though I recall a few months ago how I mentioned PQ is sweeping the globe and will soon be a household and organizational word. To see the full list of other Inc 5000 organizations CLICK HERE.

Using factor analysis to go to the root cause, PQ has radically simplified how we increase our performance and well-being by growing 3 core mental muscles. And to give you an idea of how we grow one of them, the self-command muscle, here’s one of a hundred or so exercises that can help to disrupt the saboteurs that can compromise our strengths and overtake our lives.

5-4-3-2-1 Focus


five things you can see

four things you can hear

three things you can touch

two things you can smell

one thing you can taste

Preparing items for touch, smell and taste in advance can be beneficial to avoid any last-minute scrambling during the meditation. The point is to focus deeply on each physical sensation, disrupt negative mind chatter or triggers, and drop back down into your body so you can then resume activities on a more grounded level and access the sage part of your brain that resides in your pre-frontal cortex (not the survival-based limbic system).  

One variation on this exercise can be to pick a color, like green, which is great if you’re doing this exercise while outdoors, and name all the things in your environment that are the color green. There can be many things to listen to outdoors. Smell might take a little effort so be intentional about that, as well as for taste. And on the mention of intentionality, this, along with some discipline are what create new habits to build skills and live a more peaceful and fulfilling life. So are you curious?

For organizations that have Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), we have a white paper to share on how PQ can supplement your current offerings and help employees in a very proactive way. The World Health Organization has revealed that 12 billion work days are lost globally to depression and anxiety, costing 1 trillion dollars per year in lost productivity. Being proactive by building mental fitness can help your employees in a way with less stigma than many mental health remedies while removing stigma and saving your organization substantially in lost revenue.

Interested in the white paper on how PQ can support your EAPs or are you ready to do something about stress for you and your employees? Schedule your complimentary strategy session here: 

Averting Organizational Crisis With Emotional Intelligence

Averting Organizational Crisis with Emotional Intelligence

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D. 
Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach
Certified Positive Intelligence Coach
EQ-i 2.0 and EQ360 Certified

September 2023

Just when EI development was flourishing, with organizations prioritizing the development of essential skills for their leaders and teams, the pandemic hit and created a backward slide. The ripple effect is multifaceted and includes negative impacts on employee engagement and well-being and fueled organizational attrition.

Organizations are now struggling to retain and attract top talent, and it’s commonplace for industries like healthcare and hospitality to pay higher wages to fill their gaps. However, there are more opportunities beyond compensation, as per McKinsey & Company’s Great Attrition/Great Attraction survey from April 2021 to April 2022, which identified twelve reasons for employee turnover. We assert that emotional intelligence deficiencies are at least indirectly related to each of the twelve reasons employees quit their organizations.

Let’s connect some dots. Listen to the video below for highlights and read the full article in Emotional Intelligence Magazine. CLICK HERE FOR OUR ARTICLE IN EI MAGAZINE

When was the last time you had your Leadership Team take an Assessment to help you measure your current competencies?

Schedule your complimentary strategy session here to explore possibilities for your Leaders and their teams: 

Eliminating Toxicity for Greater Self-Actualization

Eliminating Toxicity for Greater Self-Actualization

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D. 
Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach
Certified Positive Intelligence Coach
EQ-i 2.0 and EQ360 Certified

July/August 2023

Many times, clients or prospective clients will show up for a session and express that they’re not feeling fulfilled in their work or are stuck trying to determine next steps. These next steps could be pursuing another role with a different organization, positioning for a promotion within their current organization, or we’ve even heard prospective clients ask for clarity on what they call a “side hustle.” With this particular topic, we’ve found it useful to apply a combination of curiosity and the sage power of navigate to get to the heart of what matters most. Beginning with the end in mind, doing a bit of reverse engineering can be powerful to connect purpose and vision for a client, as this will ultimately lead to higher levels of the emotional intelligence skill of self-actualization. Self-actualization is becoming and living the greatest and truest version of yourself so you are deeply fulfilled and living a purposeful life.

We often uncover that there are three areas to explore, some of which can take some time to tease out. These three areas, in combination with truly understanding what you are tolerating, can help to gain clarity. When we peel back the layers of the proverbial onion, we discover that clients who are stuck or feel unfulfilled are tolerating toxicity in some fashion. The following quote was the inspiration for this blog’s topic:

“I like my products like I like my people: non-toxic”
Source unknown


“You get what you tolerate”
– Henry Cloud

Let’s address the three most common areas we examine to help clients get ‘unstuck’ and live a more purposeful, fulfilled life. We thought this is a timely topic for the summer months as many travel and take a little time to reflect on what matters most.

Values – As all of our clients are familiar with, we incorporate clarity of core values into every engagement, whether it is an executive or team engagement. For our executive clients, values are important because they represent who we are. When we’re not living our values or stifling those that are most important, the result is misalignment which can lead to frustration, feeling stuck, overwhelm or burnout.  

Values serve as a compass, for individuals and organizations. When they are honored and upheld, meaningful impact is achieved, along with greater fulfillment [of mission or purpose]. 

Boundaries – are another area we often find clients struggling to maintain. Particularly for those who might have a strong Avoider or Pleaser Saboteur (from the Positive Intelligence platform we use), we uncover how boundaries are either not maintained, might be blurred or not well-established.  

It’s important to note that there are different types of boundaries to maintain and the areas we explore include boundaries that are physical, time-bound, or information-bound. Physical boundaries might be our space or environment. For those working remotely, it may be challenging to keep home life from interfering. Distractions or interruptions like dogs, temptations to do chores, deliveries, kids, and spouses can all blur the boundary needed to be as effective and efficient as possible. A favorite example of time boundaries is carving out designated times to do or not do tasks; we work a lot with leaders to respect the sacred space of weekends and evenings so they do not intrude on their employees’ precious time away from work. Employee productivity and well-being are positively correlated! And information boundaries are about what types of data/communications/etc may or may not be shared with individuals in your sphere of influence.

Energy Drains and Fillers – this is the third area we explore to learn what is lighting up or sucking the life from clients. And notice a theme here again of three things that we focus upon: people, places, things. This is an exercise we often do with clients, where we have them create a document that they can add to over time. Who are the people you love to be around who recharge your batteries and bring you more enjoyment? Who are those that drag you down or suck the life from you, perhaps so much that your recovery rate requires a lot of precious time? What are the places that lift you up and conversely, what are the places that drain you or create dread? Finally, what things or activities light you up and what are those that are life and soul-sucking?

Creating a core honesty around these three areas is difficult. Typically because there’s an opportunity to develop greater self-awareness – to understand all triggers and all associated emotions.   

There’s a lot of positive and emotional intelligence we can apply here to help you and your team have greater awareness and to show up more purposefully so you get more done, and have greater fulfillment and well-being. It all connects to performance and well-being and this results in the highest levels of self-actualization. Let’s kick those toxic tolerations to the curb, weaken the saboteurs and maximize self-actualization for you and your team.

Curious about learning how you or your team may self-actualize or perhaps would like to take our Positive Intelligence Saboteur Assessment? Schedule your complimentary strategy session here: 

Don’t Do What I Did: Do THIS Instead for Greater Impact and Reduced Stress

Don’t Do What I Did: Do THIS Instead for Greater Impact and Reduced Stress

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D. 
Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach
Certified Positive Intelligence Coach
EQ-i 2.0 and EQ360 Certified

June 2023

The following article was published in the April 2023 edition of Emotional Intelligence Magazine and is slightly edited.  CLICK HERE TO READ ON THE EI MAGAZINE PLATFORM

We all have triggers or “hot buttons” that cause us to become agitated, worried, or angry. These triggers can vary from person to person and are often influenced by our environment. For example, being stuck in traffic can lead to road rage, while technical issues with your computer can cause heightened stress levels. Additionally, certain people in our lives can be major sources of frustration, as well as tasks that require a lot of focus and energy. 


Becoming aware of our emotional triggers and understanding how we react to them is essential for developing emotional intelligence. Becoming mindful of the three-step process – Awareness of the trigger, Acceptance of the trigger, and Contemplated Action – can help us to effectively manage our responses in a more emotionally intelligent manner.

Here’s a little vulnerability in a true case story and something that was a triggering event for me.

I live in Southwest Florida, and my community was devasted after Hurricane Ian made landfall on September 28, 2022. Like so many in our area, my home flooded from storm surge, had to be completely gutted down to wall studs, and required a complete interior rebuild and renovation.

One necessary item to rehab inside our home was 14 interior doors, something my husband and I thought would be simple items to purchase, especially when the ordering process went fairly smoothly inside a local Big Box store. The following morning after placing the order, I realized we were one door short, so I stopped in the same store after a difficult day and, for forty-five minutes, attempted to get assistance at the door department. I went to two other departments and asked for an associate to be paged, and although they promised to make the page, I never heard any announcement over the store’s loudspeaker. I then asked six other store associates, and not one of them was able to help me. One associate told me to go to customer service, where the line was about 30 people deep.

I felt my anger bubbling up, my body was already overheated, and I was also a bit dehydrated. After feeling overwhelmed by the ridiculously long customer service line, I returned to the door department. Finally, someone appeared behind the desk! When I approached the associate and asked for her assistance, I was thrilled when she said yes. I showed my appreciation by thanking her profusely for her help after waiting in line for 45 minutes to order one last door.

To my disappointment, she said she couldn’t order the door for me because she was “just a sales associate” and didn’t have the authority to place an order. My anger again began to build.

She told me that I would need to come back another time, but couldn’t give me a specific time frame for when would be best. She explained that the person responsible for the department might have taken a break. I asked her to check the breakroom, but she seemed reluctant. Despite my attempts at being polite and explaining that I had already waited for over 45 minutes, she did not budge, and remarked that “associates are entitled to take breaks.” That was the last straw for me, and the anger I suppressed was at a breaking point and exploded out of me.

After months of enduring extreme stress, I snapped back at the associate and said she and her associates were poorly trained and didn’t care at all about customers yet were quite good at processing payments. I continued to spout off and stormed out of the store, hollering while I made my way to the exit – not one of my finer moments.

This story gets even juicier. A few weeks later…

After receiving emails confirming the arrival of our doors, the store couldn’t locate any of them when we attempted to pick them up. Our general contractor and I visited the store multiple times to locate and collect our order, but we were unsuccessful each time. The store associates became increasingly agitated with our requests for help, often yelling at us as we inquired from one associate to the next and then to a supervisor.

The experience was utterly shocking to me. Although employees of this store were poorly trained, among other deficiencies, my response exacerbated my stress and wasted more time. In retrospect, my husband and I would have been better served by canceling the order after the initial negative experience and taking our business elsewhere. 

We all get emotionally hijacked at some point or another if we don’t intercept our emotions before they become reactions. Failure to pause in these moments of strong emotional arousal leads to a lack of emotionally intelligent expression. The results are wasted time, unhealthy interactions with others, and an even bigger stress response. 

Here’s an easy-to-apply system to consider when preparing for another amygdala (emotional) hijacking.

First, the 3As:

Awareness – first, it’s necessary to bring attention to and understand what we are feeling and why. This isn’t as easy as it may seem. We might not know how to identify what emotion we’re experiencing, especially if there is an array of (potentially conflicting) emotions. 

In my example, I was angry, and there was also extreme frustration that was fueling my anger. 

Tips for developing awareness: Journaling can be helpful in documenting and making sense of triggering events. It allows you the opportunity to reflect and compare patterns over time to increase emotional self-awareness.

Acceptance – essential to managing our emotions and reactions. It is an important step towards cultivating our emotional intelligence, allowing us to examine different viewpoints objectively. In accepting the reality of our situation – no matter how unpleasant or difficult it may be – we gain a sense of control that empowers us to take charge of our emotions and reactions. “Acceptance is the only form of total control we have.”  Are you cultivating a core honesty with yourself in terms of how you accept a trigger or hijacking?

Action – specifically contemplated action, is choosing how to respond in a positive and impactful way, which leads to the next phase of the system, also using memorable alliteration. The 4Ps Process is used by Multi-Health Systems and their model of Emotional Intelligence, the EQi-2.0.


The 4Ps:

Pause – When we take a moment to pause, our prefrontal cortex is allowed to intervene and regulate the amygdala’s more primitive “freeze, flight or fight” instincts. This process can be likened to pressing the proverbial “pause button” on a remote control, granting our brains the necessary moments of reflection and self-regulation.

Deep diaphragmatic breathing is one of the most effective ways to activate this pause, as it helps interrupt the stress response cycle and provides a much-needed moment of clarity. It also allows us to access higher-order functions in our brains.

Process – after allowing some time for the sympathetic nervous system and amygdala to reset, now reflect upon potential next steps. There are two parts to processing – idea generation and anticipating how obstacles may impact our desired outcome.

Idea generation is an invaluable creative process that can help spur innovation and create solutions. To achieve the greatest success with this technique, it is important to generate as many ideas as possible without judging or critiquing them. This ensures a large pool of possibilities from which to choose, as well as allowing for the creative flow to remain unencumbered. Additionally, taking the time to actively move during idea generation can help keep things fresh and fun. Finally, after a large list of possibilities has been generated, obstacles can be anticipated for each potential solution.

Pick – Systems are more effective when there is a contingency plan involved. Choose two or three possible ideas from the list of ideas generated and evaluated in the ‘Process’ step. Consider Plan A to be the most desirable, mind-blowing option. Plan B is the middle-of-the-road, safe and reliable option. Plan C is the bare minimum option from which anything less is intolerable or acceptable.

Perform – Time to implement the option you have chosen from the ‘Pick’ step. This final step is the actual “doing” or behavior you have carefully and intentionally contemplated. After performing, wrap up the system by evaluating the impact or outcome, as it’s the only way to determine if you will rinse and repeat or tweak in some way. Having an accountability partner or strategic advisor can be a bonus to share feedback so you may continuously evolve and grow.

We all have triggers and a baseline for how much we can tolerate. Dr. Marshall Goldsmith says, “We are on this earth to make a positive difference,” – and the way we may show up in this manner more consistently is by exercising emotional intelligence. ‘Awareness, Acceptance, and Action’ is the first half of the system to exercise emotional intelligence, and Pausing, Processing, Picking, and Performing will ensure that our actions and responses are as positive as possible!


Curious about taking your or your team’s performance and well-being to the next level? Let’s connect to discuss your intentions. Schedule your complimentary strategy session here: 

Mutual Accountability – What, Why, How in Your Organization (Part 4 of 4)

Mutual Accountability – What, Why, How in Your Organization

Part 4 of a 4-Part Series

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D. 
Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach
Certified Positive Intelligence Coach
EQ-i 2.0 and EQ360 Certified

May 2023

Imagine a culture where team members care as much about their colleagues’ successes as they do their own, including the journey or path toward achievement. The journey will most likely have some bumps in the road and yet, regard and respect for one another is so high, that team members are delighted to pause their work and take some time to help the colleague who runs into an obstacle in the road. With this regard also comes the tacit understanding that there is a reciprocal “lifting up” of one another that includes calling out any negativity or limiting beliefs that will surely sabotage team initiatives.

This month we’re focusing on mutual accountability, the fourth pillar to building high-powered, highly-functioning teams. Fostering mutual accountability initially begins with the team leader and then blossoms into a flattened hierarchy where everyone assumes the role of being equal partners. Mutual accountability occurs when the leader creates a culture where everyone holds each other accountable for both results and conduct.   

Conduct can be positive, negative or lie somewhere in between the two poles. As with any behavior, we spread sage contagion when we model what we want to see in others and reinforce desired behavior through recognition and celebration. So, to get even more positivity, model and exude a positive outlook, publicly recognize and celebrate behaviors and outcomes when they are moving the organization forward. When the opposite occurs, and behaviors are not conducive to desired results, it’s very important to separate the behavior from the individual. Many leaders fall into this trap and forget to isolate the problem from the individual. Call out what you see and ask how you may support the individual to help them course correct (e.g., “Sally, I’m noticing that you appear frustrated and didn’t deliver the Profit and Loss statement during the date we all agreed upon. How may I help you?”). Always come from a place of support and positivity, and never ever publicly criticize.

When conduct is managed, desired results happen more effortlessly. There are a few other ingredients, however, to establish mutual accountability to drive results: 

1.  Co-creation – just like a healthy coaching and consulting engagement, giving everyone the opportunity to reverse engineer a project from end to beginning will garner more buy-in and motivation. This is a time to keep the controller saboteur at bay so everyone feels safe and inspired to take initiative. Using the sage power of navigate is an appropriate strategy to use to focus on what matters most and how the team will be addressing pain points or potential obstacles.

2.  Establish agreements over expectations – let’s tip our hat to the great Steve Chandler for this strategy which is brilliant. So many organizations use the term “expectations” in anything from job descriptions to project deliverables to operations. Expectations breed toxicity and mistrust because they imply a powerplay. If a team is to feel safe to hold one another accountable, the healthier way to do this is to create agreements with one another and for the team overall. Co-creation is then taking place and the agreement represents a “contract” which can be amended or revisited if a bump in the road occurs.  

3.  Vulnerability – is always the most important ingredient to generate trust. There are hundreds of ways to demonstrate vulnerability and one of my favorites is when a leader admits that they don’t have an answer [yet] and are working, reflecting, or researching to find a possible solution at which time they’ll go back to the team to bounce the idea around.

4.  Using a coaching approach – identified as one of the top 5 most important competencies that a leader needs to adopt in the year ahead (from the Brandon Hall group), is to grow team members through a coach approach. This involves asking questions to help team members tap into their inner wisdom to move forward. Instead of a leader being a ‘sage of the stage’, solving problems, it’s more about being a guide on the side to empower, transform behavior and do so in a way that motivates each individual team member.  

5.  Defer to praise and positivity – mentioned in a previous paragraph discussing conduct, we get what we give. If we model positivity, we will experience even more of it and invite more creativity and innovation.  This fuels results.   Publicly celebrate, privately counsel.  

Once these elements are incorporated, mutual accountability will get traction. Then, it’s just a matter of fine-tuning and looking for ways to rinse, repeat and update as projects evolve or as the team grows. 

Curious about contrasting low vs high mutual accountability? The following chart provides examples:

If you’re familiar with Patrick Lencioni’s model of high-performing teams, you no doubt see many parallels made in what we’ve presented in this article, as well as the previous 3 pillars. Achieving and using all 4 pillars drives desired results. And you also have 5 strategies from this article to establish mutual accountability. To this, and as a bonus, we may add three emotional intelligence skills to leverage: assertiveness, self-regard and impulse control.

Assertiveness is important in any form of team-building or negotiating; we always want to avoid aggressiveness or passivity.

Self-regard is important to know yourself so you may be able to connect with and understand others (empath).  

And impulse control is critical to regulate and temper what may or may not be appropriate to express.

So, we’ve now covered all four leadership pillars necessary for creating high-powered teams. If you missed one or more or would like to unpack how they might exist in your organization, let’s connect. There’s a team assessment we include as part of our Positive Intelligence program with the High-Powered Teams component. And for those of you who did the foundational Positive Intelligence program, recall how your saboteur assessment results were uncanny – so just imagine what can come out in the team assessment! Going from ‘me’ to ‘we’! 

Here’s a recap of the 4 pillars of High-Powered Teams:

  1. Triple Purpose (we covered in February’s newsletter)
  2. Earned Trust (March’s newsletter)
  3. Healthy Conflict  (April’s newsletter)
  4. Mutual Accountability  (May) 

Did you know there’s a program for your team or organization to learn and master the Four Pillars of High-Powered Teams and Leadership? It begins with a 7-week foundational Positive Intelligence program and segues into a transformational experience for Leadership Teams and Executives.  

If you’d like to learn how to re-energize your team and ignite inspiration, let’s explore your challenges. Schedule your complimentary right-fit session here: 

Embracing Conflict for Results and a Healthy Bottom Line (Part 3 of 4)

Embracing Conflict for Results and a Healthy Bottom Line

Part 3 of a 4-Part Series

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D. 

Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach
Certified Positive Intelligence Coach
EQ-i 2.0 and EQ360 Certified

March 2023

It typically exists as two different extremes between people and in organizations – manifesting as either avoidance or overdramatization. On one end of the spectrum, we see some individuals who thrive on the drama of conflict and they live for the debate, argument or fight. In organizations whose leaders employ a pace-setting or coercive hierarchy, this does grave damage in establishing the psychological safety that is critical to creating a healthy culture. And it feeds into unnecessary drama. Or, it can spawn avoidance on the other end of the spectrum with less extreme variations occurring between the poles. 

We’re talking about conflict and it’s no coincidence that organizational development masters including Patrick Lencioni and Shirzad Chamine consider it an essential ingredient to creating thriving relationships. We can apply all 10 of the saboteurs from the Positive Intelligence™ framework and how they keep us from embracing conflict as an opportunity – here are how they show up and how I propose some overlap with Walkers trauma typology model:

Fight – As the name implies, is the aggressive, more hostile response. Saboteurs that can rear up include the Judge, Controller, Stickler and sometimes Hyper-rational and Hyper-Achiever

Flight – The response to flee or bounce away from something or someone perceived as painful. Saboteurs may include Restless, sometimes Hyper-achiever and Avoider

Freeze – The inability to take action as the vagal nerve virtually cripples an effective response. Saboteurs may include Avoider, Hyper-vigilant, sometimes Victim

Fawn – Think of sucking up, being ingratiating or punting your own needs to either keep the peace or appeal to others at an extreme level. Saboteurs include Pleaser, sometimes Avoider and Victim  

As I’ve immersed myself in Positive Intelligence since the onset of the Pandemic, I’m inspired by its application and streamlining of so many other social science platforms. Conflict theory, Change Management, and Emotional Intelligence are just a few.  

And I’d like to invite you to embrace conflict as an opportunity. Avoiding challenges only results in a festering of problems and the absence of deepening relationships with others. The result is wasted time, strained relationships and a stress response. On the other end of the extreme – going all in ‘sturm and drang’ demotivates others, damages relationships, erodes trust and also negatively impacts performance, productivity and well-being.  

Embracing conflict is both an art and a science. When it is in a healthy state, conflict deepens trust and transcends performance and relationships to drive incredible results. 

“Does the human being reason? No; he thinks, muses, reflects, but does not reason… that is, in the two things which are the peculiar domain of the heart, not the mind, politics, and religion. He doesn’t want to know the other side. He wants arguments and statistics for his own side, and nothing more.”  ~Mark Twain

The following chart is an example of what healthy and harmful conflict might look like in an organization.

The responsibility of leadership (and we are all leaders within our sphere of influence) is to look for underlying aspirations instead of positions and use discernment instead of judgment to create a culture of healthy conflict.

Let’s use the metaphor of growing a beautiful garden. In that garden, we have both roses and weeds. When weeds are preened and kept under control, the roses are better positioned to thrive and bloom in all their glory. Such is the case for embracing conflict and there are really two key ingredients to nurturing healthy conflict:

Be curious – to better understand someone else’s aspirations requires exploring and leaning into curiosity. A closed mind never grows and so an ability to explore others’ viewpoints presents leaders with an opportunity for growth while deepening relationships with others by searching for understanding instead of exerting position. Remember, the ultimate responsibility of all leaders is to inspire and this is not done by positional power! Influence happens via inspiration. Get curious. Ask questions. Consider the other person’s aspiration might be 5-10% valid. Deepen relationships, grow and get closer to a win-win. 

Use empathy – one of the most powerful and yet underutilized and misunderstood powers is understanding and connecting with others. The goal here is to connect to an underlying emotion. Used in tandem with curiosity to ask questions. One of the leading indicators that you’re missing the mark connecting with someone is when they stay stuck in a story. If you are unable to move them beyond their story in some fashion, there is the opportunity to double down on empathy and fully hear (not just listen!) to the other party. For a workplace example, be sure to listen to the video above. 

So far we’ve covered three of the four leadership pillars necessary for creating high-powered teams. Next month stay tuned as we unpack the final pillar and close the gap in how organizations may unleash the power of their teams to drive results and revenue.

  1. Triple Purpose (we covered in February’s newsletter)
  2. Earned Trust(covered last month)
  3. Healthy Conflict
  4. Mutual Accountability  (coming up in May) 

Did you know that there’s a program for your team or organization to learn and master the Four Pillars of High-Powered Teams and Leadership? It begins with a 7-week foundational Positive Intelligence program and segues into a transformational experience for Leadership Teams and Executives.  

If you’d like to learn how to re-energize your team and ignite inspiration, let’s explore your challenges. Schedule your complimentary right-fit session here: 

The 5 Letter Word that is Critical to Foster a Healthy Organizational Culture (Part 2 of 4)

The 5 Letter Word that is Critical to Foster a Healthy Organizational Culture

Part 2 of a 4-Part Series

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D. 

Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach
Certified Positive Intelligence Coach
EQ-i 2.0 and EQ360 Certified

March 2023

It can take months or even years to create and poof… can vanish in mere seconds. Similarly related to an individual’s or organization’s reputation, trust is a concept that takes considerable time to establish. And yet, one [emotionally unintelligent] act can erode all the effort and deposits that were made to build trust. Many CEOs and organizational leaders I’ve consulted believe they’ve established a high level of trust within their organizations, yet sometimes it’s obvious to me that they are either in denial or living in a vacuum when I work with their teams who are ‘afraid’ to contribute or heaven forbid, challenge the status quo because they’re inspired by an idea that could possibly help the organization to innovate and grow. Rampant turnover is another sign that trust might be compromised or deficient. Trust is the most critical foundation to foster a thriving organizational culture. It is essential for motivation, employee engagement and job satisfaction – all tangibles that are positively correlated with a strong, healthy bottom line. The good news is trust is something that can be nurtured and repaired with the right strategy. 

Trust is established when leaders create a safe place for people to be transparent and authentic, admit to mistakes and shortcomings, and feel supported and cared for by one another. The ‘currency of exchange’ for establishing trust is vulnerability. Conversely, the absence of vulnerability erodes trust and lack of applying is where many C-suite execs derail.

It’s no secret I’m a proponent of the Positive Intelligence™ model for developing highly effective leaders and teams; and having gone through the program myself at the height of lockdown during the Pandemic, I experienced the transformational power. That led to getting certified more than two years ago, and now I strongly encourage [hint- require] all new clients and teams to establish this foundation before a segue into Emotional Intelligence.  

The Positive Intelligence Model™ incorporates best practices from Organizational Development masters including Dr. Brene Brown, Patrick Lencioni, Dr. Martin Seligman and more. And what I love about the PQ model is the simplicity and thoroughness in its 4 pillars for creating high-powered teams. Here are the four pillars.  

  1. Triple Purpose (we covered this pillar last month)
  2. Earned Trust
  3. Healthy Conflict
  4. Mutual Accountability  

This month we unpack Earned Trust with the qualifying word “earn” being of utmost importance.  Here are a couple of examples, both personal (one work-related and the other home-oriented): 

Personal Home Example – Ten years ago, I rescued my dog, Nori. I fell in love with my Nori even before I met her when I saw a picture of her doggy smile and true essence in an online photo. When we visited her at Florida Brittany Rescue a few days later, she was a scared and timid pup, yet something told me there was lots of love suppressed in this girl. We took her home and it became clear very quickly that she was damaged goods; someone, maybe the negligent breeder did something to violate trust and this little girl cowered in a corner whenever the doorbell rang and even ran away a couple of times from being spooked out of her skin. I wasn’t sure we would be able to keep Nori; many times she’d scare from something, jump up on a piece of furniture and have an accident. Fast-forward about a year and the consistent deposits of patience and love revealed the loving essence I suspected. Consistency, patience, love and time rehabilitated my best furry friend. 

Personal Work Example – More than 20 years ago, I took the position of Academic Dean for a 2-year Technical College (the school is no longer in business, so I can safely use this example.) It was clear to me almost immediately after my arrival, that my inherited faculty were battered and untrusting. They had an amazing work ethic, were genuine, competent and yet, guarded. After a lot of exploring and consistent check-ins with all of these wonderful educators, I learned that they were overworked, under-appreciated, and manipulated. I also realized I had quite a task ahead of me, that would take time and consistent gestures. And so I got to work to get to know each one of my 60 faculty and staff, kept a file on each of them so I could refer to their motivators, interests, strengths, and areas for development. There were many other tactics I employed and to make a long story short, let’s fast forward to one moment when I held a bi-weekly meeting. One of the most moving and memorable times in my academic career was when this group of educators gave me a standing ovation during this regular meeting. After a few months of getting to know them and applying what I call the Platinum Rule, I incorporated a couple of other changes to show my appreciation and trust in this large group (the expression of trust was to grant them the authority to leave campus when they were not teaching or doing any type of admin, sort of remote work long before it was a concept!).  

There are many ways to be vulnerable to generate trust. Consistency is also important when making deposits into the emotional bank account of trust. And it’s also important to accept that building trust is not a cookie-cutter approach for all organizations, so it can be helpful to work with a trusted advisor or accountability partner to bounce ideas around. 

The following chart is an example of what high and low trust might look like in an organization. If your organization suffers from any of the points on the low trust side, there will be an impact on employee engagement, retention and the bottom line. Not sure? We have a team assessment to find out. Think you have high trust? It’s also great to find out and have the validation and if there are any deficiencies, there’s a solution we can apply. And remember, trust is something that is earned by being vulnerable and consistent in how you act and communicate. 

Did you know that there’s a program for your team or organization to learn and master the Four Pillars of High-Powered Teams and Leadership? It begins with a 7-week foundational Positive Intelligence program and segues into a transformational experience for Leadership Teams and Executives.  

If you’d like to learn how to re-energize your team and ignite inspiration, let’s explore your challenges. Schedule your complimentary right-fit session here: 

Leading by Influence Instead of Authority (Part 1 of 4)

Leading by Influence Instead of Authority

Part 1 of a 4-Part Series

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D. 

Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach
Certified Positive Intelligence Coach
EQ-i 2.0 and EQ360 Certified

February 2023

Systems require regular updating, whether it’s related to software, hardware or people. The antiquated form of leading people relied upon regarding staff and employees from a position of authority, but we now know this model, based upon hierarchy no longer works and is a statistically significant reason people quit; they are basically quitting uncaring and uninspiring leaders (from McKinsey’s 2022 Great Attrition, Great Attraction 2.0 global survey).

The ultimate goal of leading others is to influence, yet many leaders miss the mark because they don’t have the skill set to ignite enthusiasm and bring out the best in others.  

This leads me to 2 definitions of leadership that I believe are integral:  

Definition #1: Leadership is giving of yourself to bring out the best in others for a positive outcome  – Dr. Doni

Definition #2: Leaders inspire others into effective action to achieve shared goals – Shirzad Chamine, Stanford University faculty/researcher and founder of Positive Intelligence® 

Although both of these definitions are similar, I invite you to choose the version that resonates best for you. Shirzad Chamine is one of my mentors (and Patrick Lencioni, Peter Senge, and Brene Brown were some of his), so I was validated that the definition I’ve used and promoted for quite some time aligns with his version. 

Inspiration is not powered by data, analytics, logic or reason, so this is where more left-brained skills are best left parked at the curb for a bit. Inspiration is fueled by emotions – how we connect, convey, and communicate. So now we build a case for both positive intelligence and emotional intelligence as inspiration is a concept fueled by feelings. Don’t get me wrong, logic indeed has a necessary place in decision-making and taking action, though imposes an interdependent link with how others feel. Here are two examples, one personal and one workplace relevant. 

Personal Example: Consider a time you were really excited to buy something, like a new car or the most recent, vivid, large-screen TV

Workplace Example: It’s time to update your organization’s client relationship management software (typically with a steep learning curve and resistance to change from staff, though consider the latest debacle with the airlines – so borne out of necessity!)

Yes, the first example may not be a necessity like the workplace example, but that’s not the point. What matters is how both of these situations are influenced. If you’ve ever purchased a car that you really didn’t need, yet loved, it was because you were inspired and excited. And after your purchase, you likely rationalized the hell out of your decision with all kinds of logic. Emotion happened first, then thinking. In the second example, we have a situation that is being fueled by the necessity to stay competitive, serve customers and perhaps avoid obsolescence. Leadership made the decision to upgrade. And then they need to ‘sell’ all their staff who must be trained and acclimated to the new system. I’ve been through several of these “system upgrades” myself in my current practice and back in the day when I worked in academia. And I’ve also worked with several clients who have taken their organizations through system upgrades. I can tell you these changes are rarely received with cheers and applause. The way to get everyone on board and influence is to inspire (and all change also requires empathy – another critical component).

How to inspire so you’re influencing like a true master?  There are four pillars involved: 

  1. Triple Purpose
  2. Earned Trust
  3. Healthy Conflict
  4. Mutual Accountability  

This month, we’re going to look at Triple Purpose which is all about getting clarity and actionable steps pertaining to your organization’s “BIG WHY.”  And as the name implies there is an impact upon three areas:

  • Positive impact on others
  • Positive impact on each other
  • Positive impact on self

We’re applying good ‘ole Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs with this pillar, striving for the greatest self-actualization of self and teammates, and transformation.

Here are examples of low and high achievements of triple purpose to provide more context:

Triple Purpose

Did you know that there’s a program for your team or organization to learn and master the Four Pillars of Inspiring Leadership? It begins with a 7-week foundational Positive Intelligence program and segues into a transformational experience for Leadership Teams.  

If you’d like to learn how to re-energize your team and ignite inspiration, let’s explore your challenges. Schedule your complimentary right-fit session here: 

Intentional Questions to Ask Your Team for Your Best Year Yet

Intentional Questions to Ask Your Team for Your Best Year Yet

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D. 

Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach
Certified Positive Intelligence Coach
EQ-i 2.0 and EQ360 Certified

January 2023

May your 2023 be off to a strong and fulfilling start! I’ve never been a fan of resolutions – they have a tendency to set most people up for failure. Why? Because most resolutions are lofty, not specific enough and oftentimes, many folks are not motivated to do the work to achieve the results they want. Let’s take a look at two examples – one personal and one professional.  

Consider a popular well-being resolution to get in better shape. Sure, it’s a positive and noble pursuit, but most people who want to lose weight or get in better shape, give up because they don’t set specific goals, they’re not motivated to do the hard work to achieve results, and may not have an accountability partner. Ambition then fizzles out because results are not being achieved quickly enough or at all.  

In the workplace, many leaders want to grow their organizations and scale to a level higher than the previous year. Again, it’s a positive and noble goal, but without specific strategies, motivation to do the work to grow, acquiring necessary skills and utilizing an accountability partner, results will likely fall flat.  

As we usher in 2023, I propose that you set intentions to achieve your goals for the year. Choosing just a few goals is more realistic and I’ve always been a fan of the “3 Big Rocks” method to use as a roadmap for strategic intentionality. Click here if you’re not familiar with the Big Rocks time management tool. Too many goals will dilute your efforts and make it less likely that you succeed in any area. Doing less to achieve more is very effective! Also, give the boot to multi-tasking too because it’s passe and as ineffective as workaholism and perfectionism. 

“It turns out multitaskers are terrible at every aspect of multitasking. They’re terrible at ignoring irrelevant information; they’re terrible at keeping information in their head nicely and neatly organized; and they’re terrible at switching from one task to another.”
— Dr. Clifford Nass, Stanford University

To become a stronger leader and achieve more within your organization, I invite you to use the 6-question process to achieve alignment with your team. Notice the intentionality in these questions and how they will help you gain useful insight to develop specific strategies. This process was created by Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, world-renown executive coach and author, who incidentally, was paid for his high-ticket engagements only when executives made positive gains. Dr. Goldsmith is handsomely paid by the way, so we know his approach and systems work! 

Six questions process to achieve alignment

Ask your team: 

  1. Where are we going? Where do you think we should be going?
  2. Where are you going? Where would you like to be going?
  3. Here’s what I think you’re doing well… Then, what do you think you’re doing well or what are you proud of?
  4. What are your suggestions for the future? If you were your coach, what suggestions might you have for yourself?
  5. How can I help?
  6. Here’s what I want to improve. What ideas do you have for me in this area? 

Give these questions a try and record the feedback you receive, so you may establish specific, realistic strategies. These strategies will help you nurture your 3 Big Rocks for the year and pave the way for the outcomes you desire. Intentionality in your questioning helps to achieve alignment and results. These questions are also great to use in your regular check-ins with your team and by far, much more effective than time-consuming, dreaded performance reviews.

If you’re ready to take your performance and well-being to the next level, let’s connect to discuss your intentions. Schedule your complimentary strategy session here: 

How to Repair Quiet Quitting and the Great Resignation in the Workplace

Competition is keener than ever for organizations to remain relevant, grow, and thrive. The average age of a company on the Fortune 500 is a little more than 14 years old. By 2027 companies will only average 12 years on the Fortune 500 before dropping off. In comparison, the 1964 average was 33 years! Certainly, there’s an opportunity to reverse this trend. Part of the reversal is to stop the bleeding from rampant attrition, which negatively impacts innovation and can, ultimately, lead to the demise of an organization.

We’ve learned that fallout from the pandemic requires businesses to innovate their operations and how they regard their employees. The response from many organizations has been to focus more on the operations side of the business to address challenges like supply chain issues. But the other half of the equation is to double down on their regard for employees to retain and attract top talent. The ongoing headlines incorporating terms like the Great Resignation, great attrition, and quiet quitting all point to the necessity to reinvent the ways employees are incentivized and compensated. Herein lies the opportunity that many organizations have missed, and the good news is it’s not too late to course correct!

A recent search on the job-hunting platform Indeed.com revealed more than 6400 openings for mid to senior-level leaders proficient in EI. The challenge is that many managers and leaders who are proficient in technical knowledge or are considered subject matter experts (SMEs) get promoted to their level of incompetence. We call this phenomenon the “Peter Principle,” demonstrating how IQ and intellect take leaders only so far before they plateau or derail.

Managers and leaders who derail are often deficient in the people skills that will help them relate to their team, persuade, influence and be the type of leader that others want to be around. Some organizations continue to discount the relevance of EI growth and development for myriad reasons, one being the lack of time to invest in their potential top stars. And yet, when the stakes are the highest and the investment can help stop the bleeding of employees, how can there be any argument against EI development?

In the long run, EQ (emotional quotient) trumps IQ (intelligence quotient). Without being a source of energy for others, very little can be accomplished.” — Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, September 30th, 2014 Chief Executive and Amazon Web Services 294 CEOs believe culture is the most crucial element driving innovation today (August 19, 2021). Dr. Timothy Clark agrees, espousing that the opportunity to create a culture by design instead of default is now. Much of his “Four Stages of Psychological Safety” imply self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and many other skill
areas of emotional intelligence. Many leaders, however, especially those who derail and have a track record of high employee turnover, possess an unconscious incompetence about EI; they lack insight into how EI can positively
impact their influence and organizational performance and productivity while dramatically supercharging their organization’s culture.

There is a dramatic distinction between influencing by inspiration vs. coercing by authority or ranking position. Dr. Tim Clark’s psychological safety is grounded in this same philosophy – modeled top-down by leaders. Supporting results were published in the July 13, 2022, edition of McKinsey Quarterly, emphasizing “it cannot be overstated just how
influential a bad boss can be in causing people to leave. And while in the past, an attractive salary could keep people in a job despite a bad boss, that is much less true now than it was before the pandemic. Our survey shows that
uncaring and uninspiring leaders are a big part of why people leave their jobs, along with a lack of career development. Flexibility, on the other hand, is a top motivator and reason for staying.”
Stay tuned for other incentives to consider and the theme of flexibility that exists as an undercurrent.

Organizations that regress or derail are typically led by leaders who don’t seriously regard the ideas and values of their employees. A lack of EI is at the root cause of these leaders’ woes who are not open to considering other viewpoints or don’t relinquish the tethers of control to empower and engage others. They may attribute the problem to a lack of time or that others aren’t stepping up to take the initiative; herein lies the challenge to let go a little and take some risks with a willingness to be wrong and accept others’ viewpoints. No one can whistle a symphony, and this is certainly true of any organization if it is going to innovate and thrive. Without intentional EI development, it is difficult to overrule the way our brains are designed. Leaders and individuals who are not open to or seek other sources of information, including that which is in stark contrast to their own, are just perpetuating the problem. Sadly, many leaders who struggle will suffer because they are too controlling and will miss the red flags due to the time that they waste trying to prove their position.

S/he doesn’t want to know the other side. S/he wants arguments and statistics for his own side, and nothing more” – Mark Twain.

Profit at all costs and pushing employees to uphold the organizational mission are not sustainable. The May/June 2022 edition of Inc magazine featured the Best Workplaces of 2022 and how these companies thrived during the pandemic. Innovative organizations included Seer Interactive in Philadelphia, Addigy in Miami, and Front in San Francisco.

Each of these organizations and hundreds more shared how investing in their employees reaps huge dividends. Some creative perks include:

• Cash rewards/Stock Options

• Empowering employees to referee meeting productivity

• Compartmentalizing Fridays (no outside intrusions or

• Handyman help

• Home office stipend

• Mandatory paid vacation every 6 months

• Paid off time for community service

• Paid paternity leave

• Parenting Coach

• Leadership Coach

• Wellness Coach

• And more!

An underlying theme in these successful organizations is innovation by investing in employees and in Leadership Development. Flexibility is also key. Executive leadership drives the initiative, leading by example in their own growth and development. This innovation drives an intentional culture which has a ripple effect on employee engagement and job satisfaction. It’s never too late to course correct and intentionally invest in your employees to transform your organization’s culture to drive innovation. Investments yield dividends! Which ideas resonate most with you to try in your organization? We’d love to hear what’s working well in your organization.


Variations on a Theme of Losing Top Talent and How to Course Correct

Variations on a Theme of Losing Top Talent and How to Course Correct  

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D. 

Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach
Certified Positive Intelligence Coach
EQ-i 2.0 and EQ360 Certified

December 2022

You’ve probably heard or read about variations on how most employees quit their bosses, not organizations. I’ve heard statistics as high as 80% as the main reason employees move on. Recent variations on this theme include the volume of employees who are leaving in droves, aka the “Great Resignation,” doing the absolute minimum of job requirements to get by (“quiet quitting”), and now there’s a new variation coming along as women leave leadership positions at rates higher than ever CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON “THE GREAT BREAK-UP”.

The bleeding of top talent must stop if organizations are going to survive, let alone thrive. Consider the cost of replacing top talent ranging from 30-50% for entry-level employees and reaching as high as 400% for highly-specialized executive-level leadership.  

If organizations are going to innovate and grow, now is the time to heed saving money, as well as generating revenue. And saving money can lead to making more money!

Read more on this topic, including research bolstering my argument in my most recent article in Emotional Intelligence Magazine:  How to Repair Quiet Quitting and the Great Resignation in the Workplace

“Do something today for which your future self will thank you” 

P.S. On the topic of variations on a theme – here’s one of my absolute favorites – Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. At about 15:42 minutes is the most gorgeous and luscious melody. To all of my clients – it’s great for some advanced PQ reps to listen for as many instrumental voices as possible! CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

If you’re stuck or would like to bat around some ideas, let’s connect. Schedule your complimentary strategy session here: 

Navigating Through a “Storm” – Necessary Steps to Manage Change

Navigating Through a “Storm” — Necessary Steps to Manage Change  

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D. 

Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach
Certified Positive Intelligence Coach
EQ-i 2.0 and EQ360 Certified

November 2022

“Something has to die in order for something else to live.” – Danny Ceballos, CEO of Unleashed Consulting

Consider my colleague’s quote above. It’s a bit extreme, right? And yet, when it comes to change management of any kind, there’s a lot of truth to his wisdom that may be applied in organizations and in your personal life. 

Enduring change of any kind means letting go of something else. And letting go indicates there is a loss that is occurring on some level. Loss typically involves grieving. And grief involves honor and love for something/someone else. It can be quite difficult to navigate through change without an awareness and acceptance of emotions. Failure to process the thoughts and feelings that you or your team members are experiencing will result in more resistance and less recovery. This is when change management turns sour in an organization or when an individual is unable to bounce back from the loss. That which we resist persists.

Let’s use the recent example of my home flooding from a storm surge caused by Hurricane Ian. Like so many in my community, I’ve lost comfort, security, and the reliability of things and systems that my family and I built from 20 years of putting our stamp of ‘love’ into our home. Being displaced from our home means letting go of what we created. To embrace the future and the next steps, we must let go of former things and systems if we are going to move on and recover. Letting go requires awareness, acceptance, and processing of the range of emotions that at times, have been consuming. 

And then there’s the global implication. Our community is grieving collectively because without choice and beyond our control, the change that has resulted from the storm has wreaked havoc and devastation that will be felt for years. My family was fortunate compared to many who lost everything or even worse, lost loved ones.  

And so, I realized in my example, that change, letting go, and loss, require navigating through the 5 stages of grieving. Here’s an example:

Denial – No way this is happening, not to me! We’re not going to have our home flood.

Anger – Why the $*&# did this happen, I don’t deserve this *&#%!

Depression – Can show up as fatigue, crying, despair, or general sadness about letting go

Bargaining – Maybe if I ________, then __________ will happen instead.

Acceptance – Initial peace sets in and clarity, even focus of next steps falls into place. Initial next steps are made, indicating recovery has begun. 

Emotions as we all know can be messy. Navigating through emotions in the stages above may not necessarily happen in a linear way. Some of the stages might be skipped or there may also be some vacillating between stages, especially when one emotion is not recognized and honored for long enough. 

These stages also apply to organizational change and how leaders respond accordingly. One hot topic is hybrid work since many employees have resisted a complete return to the office. It’s interesting because, at the beginning of lockdown, most employees were far from enamored with the concept of work from home (WFH). And they grieved the change – the loss of going into the office where they had things like physical boundaries. Two years since the introduction of WFH, many employees have thrived and demonstrated successful acclimation, evident through project/task completion. And now, there’s the grieving associated with the return to the office. The return to the office and all the reflecting that happened during the pandemic is what has spawned the Great Resignation and more recently – quiet quitting – which is doing the bare minimum of job requirements. 

So how does recovery happen so change is embraced and converted as successfully as possible? It requires awareness, acceptance, and processing of emotions as they occur. This may include one or more of the 5 stages associated with grieving. An awareness of emotions, sensations, thoughts, and feelings needs to be acknowledged. It is sitting with an emotion and acknowledging it. Sitting with and accepting an emotion is the only way to move up the ladder of emotion to a more manageable level. For example, moving from anger to frustration first requires awareness and acceptance to process anger.  

Extreme examples will likely require more time to progress up the ladder of emotions. In this case, patience is indeed a necessary virtue. Slowing down to speed up progress, is imminent. Applying deep listening and empathy will likely be part of the steps to help resistant employees. A consultant may shrink some of the change, and help walk you through awareness, acceptance, and the steps to successfully navigate change. 

On a personal note – I want to flex my optimism muscle for brighter days ahead. To borrow the wishes shared by a client after Hurricane Ian, practicing the characteristics of gratitude, flexibility, and patience has helped tremendously (thank S.L.!) The unwelcome change brought about by Hurricane Ian has required me to lean into my training in both Positive and Emotional Intelligence, and I’m thankful it has helped so much. And, coincidentally (or not), my temporary home happens to be on Brightside Court in the community where I’ll likely live for several months. I embrace it as a sign and wish all of my audience, whether you’re in Southwest Florida or elsewhere – peace and fulfillment as you navigate the storms that are an inevitable part of life at home, work, and everywhere in between.  

If you would like to learn more about how you may successfully navigate ‘storms’, let’s connect. Schedule your complimentary strategy session here: 

Your Jekyll and Hyde Brains

Your Jekyll and Hyde Brains

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D. 

Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach
Certified Positive Intelligence Coach
EQ-i 2.0 and EQ360 Certified

September 2022

If you watched the 1994 movie, Shawshank Redemption, you may remember the one character Brooks, who goes to extreme measures from long-term institutionalization that has instilled qualities of learned helplessness and learned hopelessness. Another character in the movie – Red, played by actor Morgan Freeman, displays similar behavior when he gives up on his chances of getting parole. Positive psychology jargon aside and so as not to be a spoiler alert if you haven’t seen this amazing film, allow me to cut to the chase.

We all have instances when we get triggered or allow our survivor brain to overtake the thrive, aka sage part of our brain. Our brains are akin to a case of Jekyll and Hyde; two very distinct and different renderings that appropriately, have self-fulfilling outcomes. The survival region of our brain is necessary for imminent physical dangers. It keeps us from walking into a street when traffic is crazy, but doesn’t serve us when an employee consistently fails to execute a task and we respond with judgmental accusations or interrogation. Our brains have not evolved rapidly enough to distinguish physical vs. psychological threats, yet more of our dangers now are of the latter type.  

Unfortunately, our survivor brain keeps us and our ego safe and comfortable. We “learn” to accept and fall victim to doing what is easy or familiar because a goal can seem too far from reach. The more the ‘easy’ behavior is chosen, the more Mr. Hyde appears, alluring behavior is reinforced, and the response becomes entrenched through neural pathways in our brain. As a result, the negatively motivated survival brain wins and so, goals are not achieved, potential is not achieved and helpless or hopeless feelings can become consuming.

Next, we have the thrive part of the brain where your sage power and Dr. Jekyll reside. 

The gap between vision and steps to achieving it may be far apart, even daunting. Add to it how the initial appeal can wear off when progress seems minimal or setbacks further reinforce the negativity that resides in the survival part of our brain. 

Although the character Brooks succumbs to the helpless and hopeless allure of his survival brain, Red’s outcome is much different when he reframes to take a different approach. And if you watched the film you may believe otherwise, so I challenge you to consider how Red liberated himself from pressure. Herein lies the power of the thrive portion of our brain; we can still win when we learn and regroup. And the outcome can be much more desirable. Intentionality, awareness, and consistent practice are critical in building up the neural pathways that will weaken your survival brain and build up the thrive part of your brain where sage wisdom and many more productive behaviors and characteristics reside. How?

Here are a few simple strategies that have worked for those who have accomplished great things and experienced more Dr. Jekyll moments:

1.  Practice consistent gratitude. Appreciation is like a muscle and grows with use. If we want to appreciate more and invite more appreciation (and joy) into our lives, it’s necessary to practice appreciation by showing gratitude. Done consistently (daily!), this is a fun activity you may do with team members, direct reports, and your kids, and when done frequently for a period of weeks, I am extremely confident you will experience more positive moments and facilitate more successful outcomes and results.

2.  Meditate or do some PQ reps (latter for those who have or will be going through the Positive Intelligence program) to zone in not out and become mindful of your being. Being drives doing and as Deepak Chopra likes to say – we are human beings. Slowing down to be intentional, fall back in love with that which is ordinary, and connecting with how your internal being drives your external doing will positively impact you and others.

2.  Reward yourself for effort not outcome. Similar to practicing appreciation is the kind and empathetic regard for yourself to focus on the courage you took, no matter how much or how little, to engage in behavior to move the needle. When you celebrate the effort, you will be more likely to act boldly again in the future because you are reinforcing the rationale for the behavior. Additionally, when you celebrate effort, rinse and repeat, you will more likely have a desirable outcome to also celebrate.

When we focus on quick fixes or strive for instant gratification, there is a tendency to “die before going into battle.”  And this is the reason that many leaders and people in general never achieve their greatest potential and dreams.

There are of course more strategies and exercises we may explore to weaken the survival part of your brain and reinforce the thrive part of your brain. If you’d like to do more than just survive, let’s connect to purge Mr. Hyde and reinforce Dr. Jekyll in your sage aka thrive brain. Click the button below to schedule your complimentary strategy session. 

What Mr. Rogers Can Teach Us About Empathy and Why it Matters

Your spouse regularly lashes out, frustrated over the temperature at home, and you engage in ongoing thermostat wars. At work, a project manager you supervise continually complains about software that doesn’t maintain her progress notes. A close friend continues to vent to you about how it’s difficult for her to commit to gathering when you propose limited options. Do you ever wonder why some people remain stuck sharing the same story over and over?

As Stephen Covey says, “Seek first to understand and then be understood.” This round-and-round dialogue may indicate a need for empathy. It’s difficult for us to move past a topic or issue or listen to others until we have felt heard. Empathy holds tremendous power in creating thriving relationships and is one of the most misunderstood and under-utilized EQ skills.

Dr. Brené Brown indicates that empathy is about understanding and connecting to the emotions around an experience. It is feeling with someone, not feeling for them; this is where empathy can be blurred with sympathy. Sympathy often involves pity for another person, which can be insulting as it implies we are outpacing in some way. Empathy does not involve pity and requires us to suspend all judgment of another’s viewpoint as being good or bad or seeing another’s feelings as being invalid. While we may disagree with why someone feels a certain way about a given situation, empathy teaches us to connect with shared emotions. I.e., “I, too, know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed, sad, etc.”

It’s this disconnect in understanding and acceptance that often leads to incivility, disrespect, and a lack of empathy, especially when controversial topics and strong belief systems are involved.

Developing Empathy:

We must first have deep empathy for ourselves before fully empathizing with another. This can be difficult, especially in cultures where it’s reinforced to first attend to the concern of others and suppress our feelings. We must be aware of, understand, and accept our feelings and emotions to fully understand and accept them in others.

Empathy creates a safe container for vulnerable communication. Vulnerability is powerful and is the currency of exchange to build trust and thriving relationships at home, work, and everywhere in our sphere of influence. It’s also necessary to apply a little two-step in conversation and spend some time to discover what is meaningful to others and motivates them so we know how to respond appropriately. The Platinum Rule teaches us to treat others as THEY want to be treated (not the cookie-cutter Golden Rule that most of us were taught growing up, which says we should do unto others as they would do unto us). Brené Brown also talks about putting ourselves in another’s shoes to connect to an emotion we’ve likely experienced, though maybe for a different situation. For example, if a friend loses their job, we can relate to the emotion of fear and disappointment even though we were never laid off or fired from a position.

Emulating Mr. Rogers

Due to his keen ability to empathize, Mr. Rogers was among the most highly respected and regarded TV personalities for decades. He makes a great ‘avatar’ for empathy because he treated everyone as a VIP and was diligent in his communication. Mr. Rogers reads, relates, and responds with ease and finesse, which segues to three strategies you may incorporate to elevate your empathy skills:

Read – Deep active listening is critical and needs to happen at a level attuned to the other party. “LISTEN,” rearranged, spells “SILENT.” Listening with the intent to respond is not effective and will shut down a healthy communication cycle. Suspend judgment. This is a time for learning. To quote Tom Chi, “Knowing is the enemy of learning.”

Relate – This might involve using more silence, asking powerful questions to extract more meaning, and using body language like a smile, hug, or leaning in. Mirroring body language can also be helpful if it’s not threatening because our neurons respond favorably to similar gestures—this happens naturally when we are genuinely engaged and shouldn’t be forced. Remember the platinum rule, so you are making your interaction about the other person and not your agenda. It can help to internalize the mantra that everyone has a story.

Paraphrasing and summarizing can help check that you fully understand and facilitate relating. Responses could include: “I hear you saying….,” or “That sucks that you didn’t get the promotion. Would you like to talk about it?”

Respond – This is relating at a higher level. After feeling with the person, it’s time to decide if there is more to learn. Perhaps ask if the other person would like to share more or if you feel equipped, ask if they would like some help to solve the challenge. But don’t go into problem-solving without asking permission first, as the other party may not want ideas. If they welcome the opportunity, batting around some ideas may provide some hope and initial peace. Finally, when some closure and peace have been restored, it can be helpful to redirect to a new topic. Possibilities may include saying, “I’m off to the water cooler” if you’re at work or “any interesting weekend plans?” which could apply to almost anyone. Or, it might be better to say nothing more and just let the other party stay in their space to process their thoughts and feelings. There is no cookie-cutter formula, and it is ok to experiment and even admit that you’re not quite sure how to respond.

Acknowledging and showing others’ thoughts and feelings matter helps stop the cycle of repeating stories so others can move beyond feeling stuck. Hearing what others are communicating intellectually and emotionally is empathy in practice. It helps to recognize communication verbally, through body language, and behaviorally. Empathy requires a genuine interest in the other person and applying the platinum rule. Remember what Mr. Rogers would do to slow down, deeply listen and treat everyone like a VIP. Get curious, ask questions, listen without judging and then check to be sure you understand and respond for some initial resolve. Life is too short for thermostat wars, misunderstood employees, and not making the most of our time on this planet with family and friends. Let’s change the dialogue to heal and transform our planet.

How to Become Part of the GREAT RETENTION

How to Become Part of the GREAT RETENTION

by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D. 

Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach
Certified Positive Intelligence Coach
EQ-i 2.0 and EQ360 Certified

June 2022

We’ve made the concept of Leadership into something bigger than it needs to be. The never-ending research, books, theories, programs and courses are testament to this. And week after week, the struggles of leading come up in my sessions with clients. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting to have all the answers and certainly, I have had my share of “learning experiences” in different leadership roles. Though there are some things I know to be true and effective that have resulted in home runs (measured through engagement and fulfillment).

Everyone leads at some point or another in their sphere of influence at work, home or in their community. Mastery of personal leadership is of course critical. We can only go as far with others as we’re willing to be honest and open in our own awareness, acceptance and willingness to learn and grow. And there are some basics of leadership that transcend every situation and challenge to which I offer my basic definition of Leadership:   

Giving of ourselves to bring out the best in others for a positive outcome – Doni Landefeld

Leadership doesn’t need to be a big, scary, abstract, difficult concept. There are some basics that transcend time. Sometimes the old ways are the best.

Here are 10 basics you may incorporate immediately to get higher engagement and sustain happiness amongst your staff. It all begins with the mastery of personal leadership – giving of yourself to bring out the best in others…

Top 10: Ways to Lead by Example

Good leaders must lead by example. Through their actions, which are aligned with what they say, they become a person others want to follow. When leaders say one thing but do another, they erode trust, a critical element of productive leadership. Here are 10 of the dozens of ways to lead by example.

  1. Take responsibility. Blame costs you your credibility, keeps team members on the defensive and ultimately sabotages real growth.
  2. Be truthful. Inaccurate representation affects everyone. Show that honesty really IS the best policy.
  3. Be courageous. Walk through fire (a crisis) first. Take calculated risks that demonstrate commitment to a larger purpose.
  4. Acknowledge failure. It makes it OK for your team to do the same and defines failure as part of the process of becoming extraordinary.
  5. Be persistent. Try, try again. Go over, under or around any hurdles to show that obstacles don’t define your company or team.
  6. Create solutions. Don’t dwell on problems, instead be the first to offer solutions and then ask your team for more.
  7. Listen. Ask questions. Seek to understand. You’ll receive valuable insights and set a tone that encourages healthy dialogue.
  8. Delegate liberally. Encourage an atmosphere in which people can focus on their core strengths.
  9. Take care of yourself. Exercise, don’t overwork, take a break. A balanced team, mentally and physically, is a successful team. Model it, encourage it, support it!
  10. Roll up your sleeves. Like Alexander the Great leading his men into battle, you’ll inspire greatness in your company.

If you’re feeling stuck, curious, or might benefit from accountability and more ideas, let’s connect! Click the button below to schedule your complimentary strategy session and come to the call with a challenge or opportunity!