Crafting Communication is a Strategic Choice

Dear readers,  One thing I love about our coaches, facilitators, and consultants is the variety of backgrounds, life experiences, and perspectives they bring and share with their clients and with our team. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Julie Guirado, a wonderful leadership coach who often focuses on cross-cultural challenges. I asked her to…

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Rethinking Training as More Than Just a Magical Fix

Dear readers,  Today I’m delighted to share some words of wisdom from an amazing Instructional Designer who works with The Sparks Group, Jennifer Eichenberg! Jennifer designs and develops training and leadership development curriculums, reviews training materials and makes recommendations about the most cost-effective way to move forward and is a wonderful all-around partner in our…

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Tourist, Traveler, or Pilgrim?

  In life, are you a tourist, a traveler, or a pilgrim? I love to travel, as many people do. When I learned Rick Steves was giving a talk in Charlotte, I had to go. Rick Steves is an American travel writer, tour guide, and tv host. His company helps 30,000 people a year travel to…

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Strategic Planning That Hits

  I was recently asked to facilitate the strategic planning retreat for a long-term client of The Sparks Group. I thought I would share the story of this work to illustrate how both developmental and business objectives can be accomplished in an integrated fashion, making the investment of senior leader time and effort have a…

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Happy Holidays: You are seen. You are safe. You belong.

Happy Holidays from The Sparks Group! We hope you are enjoying the season in whatever ways are most meaningful for you. Also: this can be a tough time of year for many reasons. We are delighted to share some thoughts from Dr. Laura Yee Breeding, one of our many talented coaches, on how the holidays…

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Teamwork Ugh

Teamwork. Collaboration. It sounds so straightforward, doesn’t it? Time and again, however, leaders share with us just how challenging it is. Many models describe what effective teaming looks like, the lifecycle of teams, and the dysfunctions team experience (thanks Patrick Lencioni!) While there’s value in many of these ideas, in the individual coaching context getting…

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Why I Became an Executive Coach

Person overwhelmed with work

I’m often asked how and why I became a coach. Let’s go back to 2008. I had just moved to Charlotte for my new role running the succession planning program at Lowe’s Home Improvement. I got off to a good start but a few months after I started, the woman who hired me took a…

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Make Feedback Your Superpower

Image of feedback meeting

Years ago, at the beginning of my coaching career, I was working with a leader (let’s call her Allie) who was having a challenge with a direct report of hers (let’s call him George).  As Allie described it, George wasn’t showing up to work on time and wasn’t letting anyone – including her – know…

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Lessons in Grief

We had to put our family dog, Nana, down this summer. She was ten and had blood cancer. My older son has mild autism, and when he was young and newly diagnosed, we explored getting a service dog for him. Golden Retrievers are the go-to breed for service dogs for people with autism. While Kevin’s…

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What I Did on my Summer Vacation

I checked out. I turned off my email. I went incommunicado. For two weeks. It was fabulous. It also wasn’t always this way. Sometimes clients think we coaches have got it all figured out, and that’s high praise, but it’s hardly true. I think the best we can do as humans is continue to improve…

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