Monday, 18 November 2013

Working as a team – Leadership communication

By Lulu Tang - Lumina Learning Practitioner

A fortnight ago a three-day training programme was launched in Lumina Learning’s head office in the UK. This training was about leadership communication, and was carried out by Thomas Bothe.

Thomas is an experienced consultant, specialising in business strategy and leadership communication. He is also a practitioner of Lumina Learning. His training style is well-structured, arresting, flows naturally and is full of fun. Moreover, this training is also very practical. It is really helpful when looking to improve individual communication skills, and develop the efficiency of communication between team members.

The training was divided into three main parts: 1. Clarification of concepts and introduction to the models; 2. Exercises in pairs, increasing self-awareness; 3. Exercises in a group, creating a plan for further development.

What do you think the difference is between a ‘group’ and a ‘team’? Through Thomas’s course we defined a ‘group’ as a collection of people who work together with a similar intention without defining it particularly clearly. A ‘team’ is a small focused set of people working towards a common goal that they have all bought into. The key difference between these two is that everyone in a team needs to make a decision; are they in or out? Are they going to commit to being a team player? Under this condition of active commitment people can then focus on the goal itself, and take 100% responsibility to send and receive necessary information and messages.

As a leader of a team, creating a supportive environment for your team members to get engaged in the conversation is essential. How can you do it? Your eye contact, voice, tone, gesture, emotion, and facial expression are all important. Through Thomas’ training we all practiced exercises to improve our awareness and control over all these elements.

We found an excellent connection with Lumina Spark and the models that Thomas introduced. By working with both models you can have a significant effect on individual development and team building. Firstly Lumina Spark’s portrayal of personality would help them to think about their behaviour in various situations, adjust their approach to adapt to the environment, and control their emotions in order to have an outcome-oriented and collaborative conversation. Second, in a team situation it is crucial for leaders to speed read people, and understand the needs of each individual in the team. Finally, through better understanding of their own personalities individuals are more likely to appreciate each other’s individual approach. This sense of awareness empowers team members to take responsibility and contribute more fully.

This integration of Leadership Communication and Lumina Spark ideas is so intuitive that it is clear that they can be mutually beneficial when enhancing the outcome of both training programs.

Thomas is going to run a one-day training programme with some Lumina practitioners on the 16th December in Lumina Learning HQ in the UK and we are looking forward to the results!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


by Amelia Watson - creative writer

When you think of old you think decrepit, boring and musty. So when I say my biggest passion is for something that started thousands of years ago with stone, I tend to get looks of bewilderment.  It's simple to explain though: I love interior design, especially ancient possessions, during a time when things were built for purpose, but looked like art. Using a blend of Big Picture Thinking and Down to Earth qualities helps me to work in a unique way, being organised and detailed whilst also being creative and imaginative. That why I have such a passion for certain things like antiques. The amount of time the craftsman put into each creation is remarkable, the pure richness of materials allowing you to feel the passion and care taken to create the piece.  They're now possessions with personal effects with stories behind each carving. A lot of people look at old or antique possessions in two ways, "I wouldn't have it in my house? It's old." or "That's amazing you should donate it to a museum!"

Antiques are stable and dependable, but I still find it's more complex than that. In Lumina Spark certain preferences would be traditional or Cautious. Due to my preference for old over new, I think there is a misconception that Cautious (and indeed blue qualities in general) are dull. Just like I want to break down any preconception people have against old possessions, I want to break down the idea that being Cautious can be predictable. People perceive my admiration for antiques as sticking with what I know, and since Cautious isn't normally a quality of mine I find it hard to connect with the idea. Then again, after evaluating why they thought that, I suppose it can come across that way. The way I talk about how reliable and trustworthy they are. Truth is there are lots of reasons why I adore them, I love their complex ambiguity, normally allowing me to see things many people wouldn't. Imagination is a big part of my perception of antiques. I suppose since all of our antiques had stories (which I would play on as a child), it made me curious to the other possible stories. They've always inspired me. This is purely because of the way they make me feel so at ease and comfortable. I want people to know that great things can't be cherished when in use.

When choosing the interior for my flat, some of my choices may seem unusual to others as I have an acquired taste. My main aspiration when designing the interior was to achieve an environment I would feel comfortable and able to reflect and relax in. It may sound surprising but I have had to achieve a balance of Inspiration Driven and Discipline Driven qualities to achieve such an environment, luckily the Lumina Spark qualities allow me to achieve a balance. I need them to make me feel comfortable because of my own personal preference for things being organised and at the same time I need to be flexible depending on what I can find and in order to accommodate the preferences of others. I really want my house to have a welcoming feel. Comfort is essential to me in making where I live not just a house but more of a home. With me growing up around antiques, deep rich woods, French art deco, all of this has become very second nature to me and incorporated into my flat, a place where I can be seen to be cautious, because I'm using what I know to give the same results. 

My grandparents and mum's house were both filled with rich oak furniture, dark leather Oxfordshire chairs, all engraved with unique details. As a child my dressing up box was an 18th century chest, which my mum still has till this day. I find something in antiques I can't find in modern possessions. They have lived a lot, which some may argue is where my Cautious quality shines through again. With them being built to last, just the care and detail you see put into certain pieces could inspire even the most closed minds. Very rarely now-a-days will you find craftsmanship that can engage you, even if it's just the story of the soldier who hand-crafted the joints out of his old luncheon tin. To me that shows you the humanity behind pieces, I love asking about engravings/marks- The more worn a piece the more I loved the story. The Imaginative quality is often associated with creating stories to make things more interesting to create a bond to keep the interest strong.

So many people have misconceptions of antique furniture; they imagine them to be dirty, past their prime, with parts falling off them. This of course isn't true and if it is, you’re looking in the wrong places. Having grown up with people knowing where to buy the best kept secrets, maybe the more common places are shabby. Although if you look hard enough, actually considering what you want you will find one maybe two pieces that will inspire you, and be your saving grace. I can go into a shop one day and nothing will catch my eye, then the next day I can see multiple items I want to take home. I do have quite stubborn qualities which allow me to be fussy in the way I know what I like and I will voice it if I don't. Saying that I will always have a favourite piece, without a favourite I would just keep buying until I found that one piece. So far it's a lion engraved box, it's simply remarkable, and I adore everything about it. I like making the connection between the interior of my flat and my home, which is common in the Cautious quality. I'm very comfortable living in an environment which reminds me of the place I grew up in. I admire how they look and how homely they make a place feel, but I would never want to try and match my furniture. In my opinion, it would make the pieces lose their individual spark.

I believe, in order to admire the full potential of a piece, they should be individual and original- like nothing else you own. I have dark oak, mahogany, weaved bamboo, leather, and although most of my furniture is wood (because I believe it to be a more sturdy standing and beautiful material) I find the main reason I chose all of my pieces is because of their natural beauty.

People need to learn to look beyond first impressions and understand why others may feel a certain way about things. Having the Empathetic quality can be useful not only to see things through the eyes of others but also understanding how others make connections. People have a personal bond with the place they live and understanding why they like things how they do is a better way of understanding them as a whole. If you learn how to use your qualities efficiently you can be successful in any environment.

Some people see my views as old fashioned but I've always loved manipulating fabrics (it can be wood or textile), it's something my granddad always taught me. With him being in the war he reused/ recycled almost everything, making the most stunning robes and duvets, shelving and doors. He had a saying "Never throw something away you cherished so much to allow it to become so worn”. I love that because it's so true. I just find it such a pity people have little respect for how/where things are made.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The 3 Stevies

By Stevie Fine - Lumina Learning Partner EMEA

Ask my wife and she’ll claim I’m a big picture thinker and extraverted– she’ll point out how I love to entertain, how sociable I am, that I’m demonstrative (or over demonstrative at times!), how I love an audience, and how my spontaneity (against her order and planning) drives her mad! She’ll also see the bit in me that’s outcome focussed (claiming it’s a ‘man thing’) because I like to provide solutions to issues or problems when what she’s looking for is for me to listen, be empathetic and supportive.

However when five of our clients were asked during a recent Lumina Learning qualification to describe my personality, or their perception of my personality (I wasn’t there at the time), they all agreed that I was predominantly a people focussed person, with lots of the Green archetype in me. They saw me as collaborative, empathetic, supportive – in fact an all-round nice guy!

My Lumina Learning Partners, Gavin and Stewart, who had posed the question, were giving each other curious looks, and in hysterics inside (as my wife would have been). This is because they rarely see these qualities in me. They get the outcome focussed, discipline driven Stevie. The one that keeps harking on about agendas and processes. The one that demands reliability. The one who needs to know where we are going before we set off.

You may be thinking I’m bi-polar or even tri-polar! Perhaps you just think I’m confused or too ready to please the person I meet! However when I was reflecting on the different views of Stevie, it was an amazing illustration why personality profiling had been failing people and businesses for so many years. In fact I’ll take that further... It was a symbol of why so many management and leadership development programmes had failed so many people for so many years!

In multiple businesses across multiple sectors, we’ve been putting people in a box – stereotyping them – for ease of description or laziness, and then sitting back and watching them get labelled for the rest of their careers. This activity does a disservice to them and also means your business misses out on the qualities of your staff!

‘That John’s a real Green, People Person, great with the sensitive ones round the office but can’t be trusted to deliver’


“Michelle’s the structured one– she always thinks through what she needs to achieve, but don’t ever ask her to come up with new ideas – she doesn’t do that”


“That Stevie is the dynamic one or that Stevie is a commander or that Stevie is a people person”

The way these three different groups – my wife, my colleagues and our clients – perceived me, reminded me that everybody has multiple qualities, and as complex human beings, we have the ability to tap into many of our traits dependent on what the environment requires. And the businesses that encourage their staff to do this are the ones that succeed first.

So my wife, my partners and my clients were all correct. There are many different Stevies, and the more I talk about Lumina with people, and how it measures all of an individual’s qualities, opposites, natural behaviour, everyday behaviour and over-extended (stressed) behaviour, it helps me to understand this and adapt and pull upon the appropriate Stevie for the appropriate situation – although I’m sure my wife is still waiting to see the sensitive Stevie she yearns for!!! 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Building a Strengths-BasedWork Culture - Part two of two

Recommended Tools
There are numerous psycho-metric tools available to organizations for the purpose of choosing and developing perfect employees through a strengths-based approach and building a strengths-based culture. As a consultant and coach there are a number of tools which I am currently using with our clients.

Lumina Learning offers a systems approach to building a strengths-based culture in that it provides opportunities for recruitment, individual assessment, team and leadership development and talent management.

The Lumina 'Spark' Portrait allows individuals to see themselves through the lens of four colour energies, eight aspects of personality and the twenty-four qualities which define who they are. Of all the recommended tools, it is the most comprehensive as it is easily expanded into developing teams, valuing diversity, and developing leadership. The Lumina Spark Portrait can be used in identifying how to engage employees and finding the ideal place for them within the organization.

The Proof is in the Pudding
If your organization is committed to creating a more engaging workplace, using a strengths based approach is essential. It is an opportunity to not only engage employees; it provides a valid way for developing people, building self-esteem and confidence, and or course, improving productivity.

While psychometric instruments play an important role in creating a strengths-based culture, they provide, simply stated, a series of reports filled with descriptions and data. How individuals and organizations apply and coach the results determines whether or not the information contributes to employee engagement in the long term.

Case Example:
Greenfield Services Inc (GSI), a service based organization in Eastern Ontario, identified a desire to create a work culture where employees were engaged and thriving. To facilitate this imitative, the CEO Doreen Ashton Wagner established the company’s Personal and Professional Institute.

A series of four staff retreats were scheduled for the inaugural year of this program. Each retreat was supported by a leadership development session prior to each retreat.

Prior to kicking off the Personal and Professional Institute the management team participated in an exercise where they examined their various roles and responsibilities. All responsibilities performed by the participants were listed and posted. Each manager was then asked to place a check mark by what they loved to do and which, based on their Strengths Finder, they were actually good at. The result of this exercise was that the two junior managers on the team switched jobs. This was a first step in creating the Strengths based culture.

The next step was to work with the CEO and the Team Manager to identify the qualities and characteristics of the perfect employee. While they had been doing this for a number of years, the demands of their work environment had shifted and it was important to update the list and notice what was less than perfect.

Finally, coaching with the CEO and the Management team assisted them in re-examining and clarifying the essential ‘WHY’ of GSI. This is stated as ‘to help our clients, our staff and our community grow and prosper'. The company values had been clarified several years earlier.

The Staff Retreats introduced participants to a number of exercises and tools. The underlying theme of all retreats has been to build self-esteem and confidence, develop strategies for being personally resilient and to acknowledge the strengths each person has. Participants have also had the opportunity to assess their personal values and their ‘WHY’ and how these are aligned with the organization. The intention is to introduce Lumina Learning as a next step.

Work with the Management Team continued throughout this same time frame with the team completing the Strengths Based Leadership Evaluation. As the company grows and expands into new areas, the team is using their results to determine who is best suited to the new requirements of the emerging projects.

The CEO of GSI ( is a true visionary and leader. She has always held the quality of work place culture as an essential ingredient for success of her company. The results of The Professional and Personal Institute are evaluated regularly through Employee Engagement Surveys and Dialogue Cafes with the staff. The morale, dedication and productivity of her staff has however, noticeably improved.

Betty Healey is known as the roadSIGNS Coach, coaching people and teams back to life! An award winning author of three books; roadSIGNS: Travel Tips for Authentic Living, roadSIGNS 2: Travel Tips to Higher Ground, and ME FIRST - If I Should Wake Before I die. Betty has been sharing her learning with readers as an e-letter for the past eight years. Her latest book, ME FIRST, is now available at Betty is also the creator of TEAM FIRST and Leading from Your Center, two programs designed to keep your employees engaged.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Building a Strengths-Based Work Culture - Part one of two

By Betty Healey - award winning author

Employee engagement is the new ‘buzz’ word. My clients are both excited and puzzled by the notion. Their excitement stems from their belief that ‘it’s about time we had this conversation’; the puzzlement is rooted in ‘how do we do this’.

What does it take to be engaged?
My concern about this most recent trend is that, like other trends in the past, lips speak the words but true commitment does not follow. If an organization is serious regarding the idea of truly engaging their employees it extends beyond the employee engagement surveys into the actual day to day practices of the organization.

Engagement implies that employees want to show up at work every day. Why do they want to be there? Because they know they are making a difference, because they believe they are making a contribution to the success of the company and because they are engaging the best of who they are in what they do – their strengths, knowledge and experience.

With this in mind, how does an organization re-assure itself that this wealth of talent, those strengths and accrued wisdom and experience, are actively engaged and being tapped into, to the benefit of both the employee and the organization. More importantly, can an organization measure these same things and use this knowledge to match employees to positions within the organization where they will excel.

Examine your Practices
It goes without saying that an organization must be willing to challenge some of the more traditional practices they may have related to hiring employees or re-assigning individuals to new positions. Typically these decisions have been based on the CV, education, work experience, or seniority. The questions that often remain unanswered in matching employees to the work assignments which need to be filled are:

- What are you really good at?
- What do you want to gain from this work experience?
- What do you love to do?
- What are your strengths and talents?

Having said this, asking these questions to some employees may lead to a few blank stares as they are not, in my experience, questions that a lot of people consider. Too many people believe they have to accept what comes their way. The result is often a less than satisfactory one for both the organization and the employee as it leads to under-employment, a mismatch between strengths and job requirements, and a lack of true engagement.

Three Essential Steps
In coaching teams and organizations, I believe there are three essential steps in developing an engaged workforce.

First, as an organization, take the time to define the qualities and characteristics of your perfect employees. This does mean writing it down and being as specific as possible. Think beyond skills and consider attributes such as integrity, communication style, level of independence, attitude, what makes them tick as a person, and so on. Perfect, by the way, does not refer to perfection. It is an observation as to who is a perfect fit for your organization.

Second, be clear on your ‘WHY’, the compelling reason behind what you do as a company and how you do it. Add to this your organizational values, the guiding principles by which you chose to operate. Simon Sinek’s book demonstrates that the most successful companies engage employees and customers because they know who they are and why they do what they do. Your perfect employee connects with this why and is aligned with your organizational values.

Third, build your organization from strengths. This is a fundamental shift in how employees are selected for the positions they will occupy. Identify tools (suggestions follow) that allow you to measure the strengths and preferences of your employees. This is an essential learning opportunity for both the employee and you as an organization. For employees, it provides an important opportunity for seeing themselves and serves as a confidence and esteem boosting experience. Organizational research tells us that an employee who is confident in their skills, and has the opportunity to apply these same skills and continue learning, is engaged and productive.

Building from strengths also implies a new approach to performance management, one which keeps the strengths conversation front and center and where employees are challenged to utilize their strength to leverage their ongoing development. Conversations related to ‘identified weaknesses’ have no place in this model. It also implies coaching versus managing employees, supporting them by recognizing their strengths and how they are applied to the current work responsibilities, and challenging them to leverage their strengths to reach new levels of performance.

Building a Strengths Based Culture requires you as an organization to be clear regarding who you wish to employ, know you essential raison d’etre and core values, and build on the strengths of your resources, your employees.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Fighting the “Darth Vader” method to Staff Engagement

This recent advert from the UK’s largest chain of computer superstores (a M&C Saatchi production) suggests they have enrolled none other than our favourite Sith Lord from the Star Wars films to ensure the quality of their staff engagement. At Lumina Learning we take issues with Mr Vader’s “lightsabre diplomacy”.

Before resorting to galactic evil (I imagine looking for organisational development tools from the Dark Side to be highly dangerous and overpriced) why not try Lumina Spark as an effective, less fictional solution to motivate and inspire your staff?

Incidentally, “Lumina” is Latin for light, and I sincerely believe that personality models such as Lumina Spark are far more powerful than Darth Vader as organisational development tools- shedding light on who you are to bring self-understanding to yourself and the team.

If you want an inspired workforce without having to resort to the evils of the Dark Side, learn more about our powerful tools at

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Lumina Learning is on Google+

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