Tag Archives: Business Coaching

The Chemistry of Positive Social Interactions In Leadership






Oxytocin has been described as the molecule of social connection associated with positive traits like trust, cooperation, and empathy.

Judith and Richard Glaser published an article in HBR on the results of a study that analyzed the hormonal response of positive and negative behaviors in managers. Source: blogs.hbr.org

Oxytocin is the hormone that we produce when we feel good during a conversation like positive feedback. Cortisol is the hormone of stress produced when we have fear of being criticized or rejected.

Cortisol stays much longer in the blood than oxytocin that is why we remember more negative comments than positive ones.

So the article suggests to be mindful of the behaviors that open us up, and those that close us down, in our relationships:

Behaviors that send positive messages:

  • Concern for others
  • Curiosity
  • Paint picture of mutual success
  • Open to difficult conversation

Behaviors that send negative messages:

  • Don’t trust others
  • Focus on convincing others
  • Pretend to be listening

Separately  I found other interesting studies showing that oxytocin levels increased in dog owners and their dogs after physical contact: Psychosocial and Psychophysiological Effects of Human-Animal Interactions: The Possible Role of Oxytocin

There is also evidences that oxytocin doesn’t make people more moral or immoral. It shifts people’s focus from themselves to their group or tribe . As a consequence, people may also exhibit more racism and intercultural or inter group clashes when those behaviors favor the group interests (Carsten de Dreu: Does the ‘love hormone’ foster racism? ).

“When you give preferential treatment to your in-group as ethnocentrism, you implicitly indirectly discriminate against people who do not belong to your in-group. And they feel that, they feel resentment, they may protest, so indirectly, it could be that oxytocin contributes to inter-group tensions” Carsten de Dreu

What oxytocin does is that once you see people as [belonging to your] in-group, you come to like them even more. Oxytocin doesn’t make you a racist; it makes you like and commit to your in-group.

Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions, Build Solid Foundations First

Sometime around January 1st, 2011, we were all excited and energized, thinking that this year will be different and that we will keep our new year resolutions but by the end of February or so we found many excuses and we just failed. The US government has a site listing the most common New Year ‘s Resolutions for Americans:

  • Drink Less Alcohol
  • Get a Better Education
  • Get a Better Job
  • Get Fit
  • Lose Weight
  • Manage Debt
  • Manage Stress
  • Quit Smoking
  • Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
  • Save Money
  • Take a Trip
  • Volunteer to Help Others

 If you failed, the good news is that you are not alone, more than 80% of people who use will power only to establish new habits and stick to them are usually out of track after the first couple of months.

Main reasons for failure:

1-Setting unrealistic  goals : too big challenges without appropriate resources including time, readiness and money

2-No Support from your partner, family or friends 

3- Lack of true motivation or discipline or energy 

4-You try to become someone you are not

5-You want to please other people in the hope they will love you more

So What Can You Do Differently in 2012 ?

Once upon a time there were three little pigs, who left their mummy and daddy to see the world …I love this classic story and the animated version from Disney made in 1933.

So what are the lessons we can learn from this story ?

We all acquire  different levels of resilience based on our experiences.  In the  story the bad wolf represents the adversity and the materials used to build the houses demonstrate how strong is our integrity. The brick and mortar house was more solid than the virtual houses made of straw and sticks. The house of bricks refers to building a strong foundation before doing anything else for lasting results.


In the The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,  Stephen R. Covey use a systematic approach for changing bad habits for good, solid ones. His model is holistic, integrated and value or principle-centered. In addition it  really works and has been adopted by many of the most successful companies in the world and individuals.

I selected three out of the Seven Habits that I think are absolutely needed to start any  change process:

  • Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind Self-discover and clarify your deeply important character values and life goals. Envision the ideal characteristics for each of your various roles and relationships in life. .Habit 2 is based on imagination–the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes. It is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation, and a physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint.
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First Habit 3 is about life management–your purpose, values, roles, and priorities. First things are those things you, personally, find of most worth. Plan, prioritize, and execute your week’s tasks based on importance rather than urgency. Evaluate whether your efforts exemplify your desired character values, propel you toward goals, and enrich the roles and relationships that were elaborated in Habit 2.
  • Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. Sharpen the Saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have–YOU. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life:
    • Physical: Beneficial eating, exercising, and resting;
    • Social/Emotional:Making social and meaningful connections with others;
    • Mental: Learning, reading, writing, and teaching;
    • Spiritual:Spending time in nature, expanding spiritual self through meditation, music, art, prayer, or service
You can do the journey alone by following self-help books like the one from Covey. You can also invest in a coach, who will help you first to assess of  what materials you are made of , your values, principles, help you define what you need to put fist by setting the right goals and strategies to reach them. I have been working with many clients on building their personal foundations while helping them dealing with the most urgent issues or blocks preventing them to move forward.

Do you want to be successful in 2012 ?


1-Take our assessment tool: Check HERE  

2-Claim Your Complimentary Strategic Consultation

Need More information ? Contact Us

Canada A Hotspot For Startups: Coaching Programs Helps

Map of Canada

Map of Canada

Canada  ranked high in terms of education, with 72% of Canadian respondents seeing an improvement in coaching programs in the past five years, and 50% calling for coaching as the No. 1 priority in the next three years to improve student perception of entrepreneurship.

Read Full Article:  Canada a hotspot for startups | Entrepreneur | Financial Post.

When And How To Hire A Great Coach ?

It seems that under the increasing pressure at work due to the economic crisis, people are more willing to deliberately invest in their life and self-care. For them this is becoming more evident in today’s fast-paced environment. Look at yourself and around you, people are so busy dealing with all the information they receive and send,  that they barely take the time to stop, think and then look inside themselves to identify their life purpose and use their skills and resources for personal development.

1-What is coaching?

According to the International Coach Federation, Personal and business coaching is an ongoing professional relationship that helps people produce extraordinary results in their lives, careers, businesses or organizations. This is not counseling nor consulting nor therapy: ask your coach what are the differences and discuss eventually to be referred to other professionals. From CEOs to women re-entering the workforce, people looking for a healthier life style or a transition into a new career, almost everyone can benefit from working with a coach who fits her or his needs as a champion.

2-Is coaching right for you?

Why? If you feel trapped or frustrated in your current position, need help to clarify your goals, set priorities for your life or communicating better – consider finding a coach.

Who? Determine the type of coach you want based on your needs. Hire a coach with the right background and experience, who fits your needs and your style.  To find out, always ask for a complimentary coaching session.   Google the coach’s name and check what he or she is saying on platforms like Linkedin, Twittter or Facebok  and blogs.

Where? Sessions can be held in person or on the phone/Skype, .All conversations are confidential.

When? Sessions can last between 30 minutes to 60 minutes. One regular session weekly schedule works well.

How? Look for highly personalized coaching services and programs

  • Business or Career Success
  • Life Enhancement
  • Personal Success

3-The Coach Role

A coach, will:

  • Actively listen to you
  • Help you clarify your objectives
  • Identify means to evaluate results
  • Identify your internal and external resources
  • Give you honest feedback
  • Encourage you to move into action
  • Observe your actions,
  • Support you in every step you take.
  • Acknowledging changes
  • Not judging you or giving you unsolicited advice.

When people are inspired, they don’t need motivation- Thomas J. Leonard.

4-Tips on how to get the most of your coach ?

Use your coach as a resource, not as an answer.Your coach has lived a lot, seen a lot and coached others who are facing similar challenges. Your coach has been trained to listen, inspire, educate, manage and guide.Your coach has been trained to initiate conversations, share ideas, make requests, clarify your thinking and support your decisions. Your coach does not have the answers. But you do. Your coach will help you discover them for yourself.

Come to the coaching call prepared, with an agenda.It’s your goal and vision. It’s your life. It’s your problem. It’s your opportunity. So, get what you want out of each session, don’t wait for the coach to initiate. Come to each session with a list of questions, a concern, an opportunity, you want advice about and/or a problem to solve. Set the pace and the coach can help.

Inspire the coach, in good times and bad. A coach wants to be inspired by you, your actions and what is happening in your life. It’s easy when things are going well, but how do you inspire the coach (and yourself) when you’ve hit a snag? You do it by being human, fully communicating about your feelings, by listening to the coaching and stepping back up to the plate when you’re ready. A coach wants to be inspired, not impressed.

Get yourself heard. Being fully listened to is an integral aspect of coaching. The more you are fully heard, the more you can accomplish. So, make sure your coach is hearing all of what you’re saying, even if you can’t articulate it fully. All you really want in life is to be fully heard.

Underpromise, don’t overpromise.Sometimes you may find yourself promising yourself and your coach too much.Experience has shown that most clients do better promising less and accomplishing more. Playing catch up with too many promises to too many people robs you of energy. Underpromise, produce more; enjoy the surplus.

Coaching can require energy: emotionally, intellectually, and physically. Take extraordinary care of yourself while being coached. There is no point to wealth without your health.

5-What happens during Individual Coaching Sessions?

  • Assessment tools : help you setup your goals, agenda for sessions and track progress towards your goals
  • Conversations: honest, direct and open discussion of deep-seeded ideas or wishes; careful process of feedback
  • Action steps:  specific methods to get you unstuck and help you realize your goals
  • Homework: assignments that continue work from your session or get you thinking creatively

Claim and schedule your FREE Coaching Session now: Email : aegros@zestnzen, Skype AnneEgros

Anne Egros’ Summary: Anne Egros, Pharm. D, has over 20 years experience in Fortune 500 global companies based in USA, Japan and Europe. From research and development to strategic planning, strategy implementation and operation management, Anne has developed her cross-cultural leadership by working with people from a large variety of cultural backgrounds. Prestigious global companies such as Sanofi-Aventis, L’Oreal, Henkel or Euro-RSCG have recognized Anne’s leadership and team building skills. Anne has worked and lived in some of the most amazing cities in the world such as Paris, London, Basel, Tokyo, New York or Atlanta.

Coaching credentials: I am trained as a professional coach by an accredited ICF program for ACC certification : http://www.Coachinc.com

Key Personal Values:
Teamwork,  Creativity, Diversity, Integrity, Results-oriented, Passion

Specialties: Global Executive Coaching, Career Coaching, Personal and Professional Development.

Clients:Expatriates, Managers and Leaders working for global companies Women and men   in their 40’s and 50’s seeking a new career, re-entry in the work force or personal development

Contact Information:

Email: aegros@zestnzen.com

Linkedin Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/anneatlanta

Web site :  http://www.zestnzen.wordpress.com

Praise and Incentives: Are Carrots Worse Than Sticks?

How many times do you say  “good job” or  “I am proud of you” to your kids ? Do you give them money or buy them candies if they behave well or get good marks at school?

What about your employees ?  Do you give them extra money if they exceed their goals ?

The way you encourage and praise kids and adults  is very cultural.  For example in France, Japan or China praise is rare.  Those cultures think that too much praise will spoil the children and prevent them from making efforts to get results. On the other hand, in America, it is almost considered as a crime if you don’t praise your kids for anything and everything they do. Most teachers and parents think that praising children is good for their self-esteem.

Our basic strategy for raising children, teaching students, and managing workers can be summarized in six words: Do this and you’ll get that. We dangle goodies (from candy bars to sales commissions) in front of people in much the same way that we train the family pet.

In the famous book, “Punished by Rewards”, Alfie Kohn shows that while manipulating people with incentives seems to work in the short run, it is a strategy that ultimately fails and even does lasting harm.

On a short-term basis, praise do increase the motivation in children and adults for boosting  the performance at school or at work. However many evidence-based studies show that in the long run the motivation is actually decreasing. Those studies also demonstrated that  both in children and adults praise kills risk-taking attitude and creativity.

In one experiment, two groups of children in 5th grade  were asked to make an easy puzzle for everyone. In one group the children have been told that they were very intelligent and the other group that they worked hard. Then the same groups of students got the option to choose between doing another easy puzzle or a more difficult and challenging one. In the group who was told they were very intelligent, the majority selected the easy one  while in the other group more children choose to take the challenge of making a more difficult task.

Kids praised for being smart want to keep looking good, therefore they avoid taking risks or more challenges due to fear of failure preventing them to learn new things. They have also a tendency to be competitive and benchmarking themselves with other kids. On the contrary, the children who have been told they worked hard learned that by working harder they can learn more and preferred the challenging task.

In this article “effect of praise” there are  good tips on how to praise kids the right way.

In business, financial incentives like sales commissions and bonuses  are the most common ways used to motivate people and reward performance despite the fact that most economic and behavioral scientific studies demonstrate that  it doesn’t work. Companies like Google, Apple or Zappos  use different approaches based on intrinsic motivation rather than external rewards and get better results on how workers are engaged and creative.

The If-Then-Rewards model destroys creativity

In this video:  TED talk, Dan Pink demonstrates that financial incentives don’t work on productivity and motivation for most people working in jobs that require more than just following simple tasks. What works on a long run is employee’s autonomy, engagement, mastery and purpose

Dan Ariely and co-workers also demonstrated in experiments published in the “Large Stakes and Big Mistakes article,  that big financial incentive backfire:

Many institutions provide very large incentives for tasks that require creativity, problem solving, and memory. Our results challenge the assumption that increases in motivation would necessarily lead to improvements in performance. Across multiple tasks (with one important exception), higher monetary incentives led to worse performance.  the largest the financial incentives the poorest the performance were .

In thisvideo, Freaknomics‘s author Steve Levitt  found also lot of evidence that  giving financial incentive don’t work.

In conclusion, While most people think intuitively that too much punishment may not be an effective way to improve performance on cognitive tasks such as learning or being creative,  the negative impact of over-praising or offering large incentives is ignored by most parents, teachers and companies. Anything that stimulates intrinsic motivation such as autonomy and independence, overcoming personal challenges or problem solving is the way both schools and companies should base their incentive programs.

Related  links:

Dear Executives: If You Are Not On Linkedin, Your Competitors Are!

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This article is about executives who have a job or executive job seekers. I am not talking about how companies can create competitive advantages by using Linkedin.

When I first posted about using Linkedin, few executives were openly using it to manage actively their career. They probably thought that Linkedin was not for them … until they were fired.  You cannot ignore Linkedin especially if you never used a resume to get a job !

The average time to find a job in the US now is 8 months and if you have been unemployed for more than 6 months your chances to find a job are rapidly declining. So the message here is  start working on your Linkedin profile and make connections while you still have a job !

The most fragile people are the executives and managers  45 and more who have been totally devoted to their company for many years, sometimes at the cost of having a divorce or other family issues, and who never spent time to build a professional network or a reputation online.

One day they woke up and they have been made redundant for a multitude of reasons which have nothing to do with their  expertise or job performance. We are living in a global economy in crisis and there is a fierce  competition even for top executives jobs, around 4 to 6 candidates for one position on average.

If you don’t have a profile on Linkedin, you’re nowhere-Fortune Magazine, 2010

In the article from Fortune magazine ”How Linkedin will fire up your career” the author mentioned that  more than 60 million members have logged on to create profiles, upload their employment histories, and built connections.

According to Jessi Hempel, Senior Writer at Fortune Magazine:

  • The average member  is a college-educated 43-year-old making $107,000.
  • More than a quarter are senior executives.
  • Every Fortune 500 company is represented.

Most of Linkedin members already have jobs that is why its credibility among executive search companies is so high and why other executives are looking to recruit passive candidates even for their most senior positions.

Your contacts in your network, the way you use Linkedin, participating in Q&As, groups or showing events you attend are ways for many  potential candidates to be found without actively searching.

This work for small business owners too,  Linkedin is a way for clients to find you. If you are proactive, energetic and offer something your clients  want you get hired and if people are happy about what you did they may spread the word to their Linkedin contacts.

How do I start  ?

To build a professional image  or personal brand on-line or off-line, the very first step is to define the story that you want to communicate about you that will attract people from your target audience. Being able to summarize a 25 year career on a Linkedin profile in half a page is more than just making a resume. You must be concise, attractive and show your strengths and achievements  and most of all don’t be boring !

People spend 7 seconds on average to decide if they will read your profile or not, so the first sentence of your Linkedin profile is  key to be found by search engines, but also it should stimulate the curiosity of the readers to go further and take actions :  95 % of recruiters and hiring managers will “Google” you to find more information. It is very important not only to be found but to show consistency in what you say online. Remember everything said on the web will last forever but having an empty Google search is not good impression as well.

So wake up, your competitors were working on building their personal brand while you were doing other things and they now know who knows them and how to attract them to get more attractive career  opportunities while they still have a job!

See Anne Egros’ Linkedin Profile

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