Ideas and Insights

The Key to Aligned Action


Over the past 20 years we have used a model to explain why so much good communication that occurs in corporations with groups of people and other large institutions is ultimately wasted effort.  This is particularly the case when leaders seek to communicate information to a group of employees in the expectation that it will lead to some form of aligned action.
In the past few months it has become clear how much this particular framework resonates with clients. Over the years we have received a number of requests to publish it.
This paper is a response to those requests. Click here to read or download a copy.


Interpreting your observations


To be an effective observer of the human condition we walk a fine line. On the one hand, observation without interpretation is useless; yet on the other hand, interpretation without verifiable evidence is dangerous. When we observe a situation or interaction, our mind naturally interprets it based on the model of communication with which we are familiar

It is more useful to consider three interpretations for a given situation. Read more…


First Impressions


Dear inner diary,

It is 9:15 a.m. Ten people sit around the conference table. Three males are side glancing towards the beauty at the end of the table. What’s worse is, they don’t even bother to be discreet. One fellow looks like he slept in his shirt. Three have names on their badges that no one can pronounce.

And I am expected to mesh these ten diverse people into a cohesive team. I know in time we could grow to operate efficiently. But in the fast-paced corporate world, I don’t have the luxury of time!

Signed, “In search of a magic wand”


Within seconds, people form impressions ranging from “Oh no!” to “OK,” to “I’m comfortable.” Often the first impressions are connected with unconscious judgments. Even with the best of intentions by all parties, faulty first impressions can sink a team before it even gets started. Seasoned and honest communicators know they are influenced by their first reactions to people and yet they avoid stereotyping; instead, they stay open to modifying their initial reactions. Read more…


The key – knowing what outcomes you want




In framing work with an individual, team or meeting it is always critical to know your outcomes first. This is especially important if you are engaged in repetitive social activity with a purpose in which the sheer repetition can, at times, cause you to lose sight of fundamental purpose. Realizing that the majority of work we do in organizations is with, and through, people it is important to recognize that there are three broad types of outcomes: rational, emotional and social.

Read more…


Behavior change – lessons from the health sector for all leaders


Creating the conditions for, and facilitating, behavior change is a core competency of great leaders and managers. It is also perceived to be one of the most difficult things to achieve and requires approaches and skill that, although may be intuitive to some, the majority find challenging and perplexing. However, research and experience have shown us that there are some clear frameworks and simple skills that can be taught to give leaders and managers huge assistance in more elegantly and successfully influencing behavior change. The health sector provides us with a useful example and model for this. Read more…


Leadership Master Class: A special conversation with Tim Dalmau & Steve Zuieback



Join Tim Dalmau and Steve Zuieback in a special Leadership Master Class in either San Diego, California on October 16 and 17, 2014.


This is a rare opportunity for top leaders in organizations who are  committed to implementing changes to create more profound and immediate results in their organizations and are interested in exploring their leadership theory of practice.


The most powerful leaders have an explicit “theory of practice” that they consciously operate from as they make decisions, how they engage in challenging situations and how they build and coach other people. A theory of practice is a set of assumptions, hypotheses and principles that have been developed through their experience about what works and doesn’t work.


This Leadership Master Class will take participants through a series of experiences, dialogues and coaching conversations that will result in a completed theory of practice for each person. Participants will receive a packet of information prior to the course to better prepare and focus them for the experience.


The Leadership Master Class is for leaders and executives in any setting, be it education, health care, manufacturing, or professional services. No matter where or how you lead people this class will be for you and will deliver to you direct benefits, insights and skills. The role of leaders in the positive transformation of whole systems will be a core aspect of these events.

You can expect to

  • Understand the Leadership Conversations Framework
  • Understand core leadership models that inform your Theory of Practice.
  • Identify beliefs and values that inform effective leadership practices.
  • Develop your own leadership Theory of Practice.
  • Connect with a network of effective leaders.

Tim and Steve will

  • Draw on various leadership models successful across multiple industry sectors.
  • Work with the real issues faced by the participants
  • Include small and large group work
  • Be limited to a small number of participants to maximize learning and focus on real issues.

Training Venue

This training will be held at:
Marina Village, San Diego, California. You will receive more information about accommodations and restaurants in the area after you have completed the registration process.

– See more at:





Tim Dalmau


Steve Zuieback


Venue: This Master Class will be held at Marina Village, San Diego, California. You will receive more information about accommodation and restaurants after completing the registration process.



Click here to Register for San Diego Master Class!




This is a special opportunity for top leaders in organizations who are interested in exploring their leadership theory of practice and who are committed to implementing changes to create more profound and immediate results in their organizations.  – See more at:

Engagement versus Communication



I sometimes catch myself using these two words interchangeably, and hear them being used by others like this. I feel I am being imprecise and possibly misleading? Is it that one is more ‘flavour of the month’ or is one more impressive? Clarification is needed about the real meaning of these words – even if only in my own mind, so I eliminate sloppiness in my thinking, actually say what I mean, and make clear distinctions for others.


Read more…


Communication patterns predict for high performance in teams


There has been some interesting work over a number of years at MIT’s Human Dynamics Lab and MIT Media Lab under the leadership of Professor Alex (Sandy) Pentland. Back in 2008 Professor Pentland published a book, Honest Signals: How they shape our world, which introduced the research of his group. With advances in technology they developed a measurement tool, called a sociometer (wearable digital sensor linked with wireless technology), which allows them to map at a very detailed level the non-verbal behavior of large numbers of people as they go about their normal workday lives. They demonstrated that people’s behavior such as tone of voice, body position in relation to others, gestures, body movements and nodding is much more than a complementary system of communication to the words we use (our conscious language). Read more…


To be a Cat or to be a Dog?

Ideas_and_Insights_700px_cats-and-dogs2A useful frame to help us understand people, and their behavior, is the analogy of people as household pets – namely cats or dogs.


When you call a dog it comes; when you call a cat it has an answering machine and might get back to you later. People can be like that also. Other names for  a cat style of  behavior is referred to as being credible (think of a pilot voice); for a dog – approachable  (like the flight attendant). Read more…


Nailing It: Commitment to follow through


We have probably all been there…


Two weeks have elapsed since the group or team had their last meeting.  It had all ended on a bit of a high and there was energy in the room  to take action on the issues discussed during the meeting. But today you notice as your colleagues walk through the door, they are hurriedly scanning the minutes of the last meeting that they have just grabbed off the printer.  

As the meeting unfolds, yet again, the whole group is let down, and energy palls as the promised follow-up and action made at the last meeting, and documented in the Minutes that were emailed to all the same day – have not been done.


There are some absolutely simple steps you can take as a meeting facilitator to ensure that this doesn’t happen again! Read more…


Buy Tim & Steve’s Book

''A truly useful and practical book'' Rich Shapiro, EY

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