Vision Wheel

200407064-001Rapport Leadership graduates will tell you that attending a Rapport Leadership course is unlike any other they have attended. The reason for this is Rapport Leadership does not drum leadership theory into the heads of its students. Rather it draws it out through a series of exercises or processes.

Below is a process called Vision Wheel which you may want to use at your next team meeting or strategy planning session.


Develop a compelling and powerful Breakthrough Vision that leads, motivates and inspires your organization. Assess and enhance your organization’s current vision by aligning daily actions with your ongoing strategic plan using the Vision Wheel model.


Two of the most essential elements to the success of any business today reside in the power and effectiveness of leadership and vision. Leaders drive vision and vision drives the leader. Most vision statements do not align with all aspects of the business; they do not guide daily strategy, and they do not inspire action. A Breakthrough Vision brings all aspects of the business together to exist in the present as well as the future. It operates as the cultural glue that connects and guides all communication in a common thread of execution and sustainable growth.

 Set up:

Review and display the Vision Wheel discussing the inner and outer layers that must align in a Breakthrough Vision.

Inner layer includes:

Core purpose and mission, Values and philosophy,Passion, motivation, and commitment, Business priorities (12-18 months)

Outer layer includes:

Long-term strategic goals, Vivid picture and dream of the future (BHAG= Big Hairy Audacious Goal*), Customer and Stakeholder Needs,Market demands and global changes

visionwheelPhase 1
Prepare four flip charts and label each with the four inner layers of the Vision Wheel. Break participants into four groups and have each group identify, discuss and capture their thoughts on their assigned element of the Vision Wheel. Have each group share their insights listed on the flip charts to the entire group.

Phase 2
Repeat the Phase 1 process for the four outer layers of the Vision Wheel.

Phase 3
Discuss your organization’s current vision and opportunities for enhancing it using the following elements of a Breakthrough Vision.

• An expected and desired future state
• A vivid picture and dream
• Moves people to action
• Focuses attention on current priorities
• Inspires action inside and outside the organization
• Bridges the present and the future (internal and external performance)
• Creates commitment, meaning and purpose
• Empowers excellence
• Unleashes individual and organizational potential
• Unifying power and energy that guides passion
• The “communication compass” for directing strategy

Phase 4
Overlay each external layer of The Vision Wheel with each internal layer discussing the current alignments and possible misalignments. There are 16 possible combinations. (i.e. Core Purpose and Mission overlaid with the four outer layers of the Vision Wheel.) Create an action plan for improving each Vision Wheel combination.

A Breakthrough Vision is essential for moving any organization in the right direction and must be the cultural cement for bonding the thousands of daily actions together. Every communication, system, process, action and strategy must link to the organization’s Breakthrough Vision. Change is fast, relentless and inevitable. Change demands aligning the layers of the Vision Wheel for short and long-term success.

Sources: Visionary Leadership by Burt Nanus
The Fifth Discipline Field Book by Senge, Ross, Smith, Roberts, and Kleiner
*Built to Last by Collins and Porras 

Layers of Emotional Intelligence

selfawarenessRapport Leadership International uses processes to help student learn important lessons. In order to be a great leader – you need Emotional Intelligence.

If you are a team leader, below is a process you can use to uncover the layers of emotional intelligence with your team.


Understand how Emotional Intelligence influences all levels of your life effectiveness. Clarify and develop your Emotional Intelligence (EI) skills at four levels: Self Awareness, Self Management, Social Awareness and Relationship Management.


Leadership growth begins with personal growth.  Effective leaders are extremely aware and attuned to themselves. They are conscious of their own thoughts, feelings and actions and how these immediately impact those around them. Great leaders also consider the longer term ripple effect of every thing they do; i.e. an organization’s culture, the community and society. This deep awareness and presence of being allows leaders to self manage, make better choices, motivate others and inspire growth. This leads to greater social awareness and relationship management. A leader’s success is rooted in personal mastery and evolves into relationship mastery.

Set up:

Explain the four levels of Emotional Intelligence (EI) to the group. Provide two copies of the “Layers of Emotional Intelligence” to each member of the group (model below).

Process-Layers of EI_V1

Phase 1

Prepare four flip charts and label each with the four EI domains. Break participants into four groups and have each group discuss their assigned EI domain and associated competencies. List all actions and applications of the EI domain in relation to an individual’s business and personal life and why they are important to the success of any endeavor.

1. Self Awareness

Self confidence, strengths, growth opportunities, intuition, emotional awareness

2. Self Management

Adaptability, achievement, initiative, optimism, trustworthiness, self control

3. Social Awareness

Empathy, compassion, service orientation, organizational awareness, community awareness

4. Relationship Management

Listening, inspirational leadership, influence, developing others, conflict management, teamwork, collaboration, connecting with others, change catalyst

Phase 2

Have each group share their insights listed on the flip chart to the entire group. Add any additional thoughts and insights from the group dialogue.  Show everyone the Layers of EI model. Using ropes or tape, draw this model the floor of the room. Begin with the inner circle of Self Awareness and discuss the influence this core level has on the outer three levels. Have the participants physically stand in the inner circle and move into the outer levels as they share their insights. (Depending on the size of the room this may be done individually or as a group.)  Move to Self Management and discuss its impact on the outer two layers. Repeat with Social Awareness while continuing to physically move through the Layers of EI.

Phase 3

Ask each participant to complete an individual assessment of their EI competencies. On one copy of the Layers of EI model, identify your strengths at each level and how they assist you in your effectiveness as a leader. On the second copy of the model, identify your opportunities for growth and the action steps you will take to improve all four EI domains. Once everyone has completed, open the discussion for individuals to share both strengths and growth opportunities.


We all have the ability to become more effective leaders – it is a choice. We must be willing to assess ourselves and be open to feedback to create ongoing growth and development. Change is constant and inevitable – create intentional transformation by taking the action to unleash your leadership potential. Our philosophy at Rapport Leadership International is simple: When you improve the person, you improve the performance. When you improve the performance, you improve the business, the family, and the community. Enjoy the journey.

 Sources: Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, Annie McKee.  Resonant Leadership by Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee


Week 4 Rapport Breakthrough Teams

WEEK 4: Recognizing and Celebrating Small Wins

Happy business people with hands upHave each member of your Rapport Breakthrough Team share the most important task, project or goal that was achieved over the past couple weeks (everyone has some important task or action, either personal or business that has been accomplished). Discuss how this small win reinforced your personal values. Discuss ways to demonstrate your enthusiasm for each Rapport Breakthrough Team member and opportunities to bring this enthusiasm back to your departments. Create and/or build on your company’s recognition program by brainstorming ways to celebrate the small everyday wins.


Everyone commit to recognizing and celebrating small wins throughout the next week. Share your thoughts, feelings and ideas at your next Rapport Breakthrough Team meeting.

Rapport Breakthrough Teams

rowers_350pxTypically, when people graduate from a Rapport Leadership course they are pumped up and enthusiastic about their future – both inside the workplace and outside it.

Rapport Leadership encourages graduates who have many people in their company who have attended a Rapport Leadership course to form a Rapport Breakthrough Team.

Why is this important? Forming a Rapport Leadership Team helps to  deepen learning and continue developing leadership skills gained. It also increases team synergy and accountability.

If you do not have enough people in your organization to form a Rapport Breakthrough Team – contact Rapport Leadership and discuss having a Leadership Coach.


Over the next few days, I will share with you some exercises, homework for your Rapport Breakthrough Team to do each week to help keep the amazing feelings you experienced when you graduated from Rapport Leadership International!


Training and development is not an event; it’s a process. Upon graduating from Leadership Breakthrough One (or any Rapport Leadership International class), it is essential to surround yourself with other Rapport graduates. Team learning increases the application and integration of Rapport training competencies through collective thinking, power of support, open dialogue, celebration of success, connecting to values, brainstorming ideas and the sharing of goals.

Set Up
Identify teams of three to five Rapport Leadership graduates to establish your Rapport Breakthrough Team. Less than three individuals will not create the necessary team synergy, and more than five will begin to minimize individual participation and may be challenging to coordinate time schedules. Teams may be formed from the same department or members of a cross-functional team; they may also be created within your family or community.

Step One
Establish weekly meeting times with your team of three to five members. Create agreements similar to your Leadership Breakthrough One class (i.e. punctuality, full participation, accountability, honest feedback and trust to ensure personal information will remain confidential). Openly discuss everyone’s commitment to the 12 week process.

When possible, establish a common meeting time and location to ensure the Rapport Breakthrough Team is scheduled and prioritized on everyone’s calendar.

Step Two
Begin by reviewing the 12 week schedule and preparing for week one. Continue to look ahead at upcoming weeks to ensure all Rapport Breakthrough Team members are prepared for the upcoming meeting.

WEEK 1: Rapport Report Review (Modules 1-3)
At the end of every Leadership Breakthrough One module, you completed a process called report writing. This was your opportunity to recap and anchor in the exercises and processes that you participated in. With every report, you had the opportunity to capture your thoughts and feelings as well as write out how you planned on applying the benefits from the
training to your personal and business life.

Have each member of your Rapport Breakthrough Team take turns sharing their thoughts, feelings, and actions from the reports. Start with module one and discuss the processes, your thoughts on the purpose of the process, your actions and commitments under the thoughts and feelings section and the variety of ways that the leadership behaviors learned can be applied in your business and personal life. Continue to work through module 2 and 3 reports in the same way.

* Note: You may need to get a copy of your reports from your nominator. If you are unable to locate a copy of your reports, ensure that one member of your RBT has a copy of their reports. Use their reports and your memories
of the experience to complete the exercise.

Brainstorm a list of team cheers for your Rapport Breakthrough Team. Just like your Leadership Breakthrough One class, a team cheer becomes a memorable anchor for recalling your experience. Come prepared to discuss your team cheer ideas in week two.


Organizational Check-up

BU001978The following Rapport Leadership training process helps meeting facilitators use a SWOT analysis at a strategic planning meeting or retreat. A SWOT analysis of your organization is an important part of knowing and understanding your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats!


Capitalize on your organization’s greatest attributes and potential opportunities while minimizing or eliminating any weaknesses, challenges and threats. Perform a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis to identify your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.


A SWOT Analysis is an element of organizational strategic planning essential in defining strategy, making decisions, and allocating resources. This powerful tool and process will allow your business to take advantage of internal strengths and external opportunities.  It ensures that you minimize, mitigate or eliminate internal weaknesses and external threats.  This collaborative process allows an executive team, department or cross-functional group, to identify and clarify key objectives, goals, and strategies. The SWOT Analysis creates team clarity and focus through a facilitated brainstorming session, and increases commitment, execution and alignment around key business initiatives.

Set up:

Prepare four flip charts labeled with Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  Share the SWOT purpose, background and link to your organization’s strategic planning objectives.


Step 1:

Explain to participants that strengths and weaknesses are typically internal to the organization, while opportunities and threats are external to the organization.  Review the following attributes which may be addressed in a SWOT Analysis:

Strengths and Weaknesses

Leadership and Management

Employees and Staff

Products and Services










Price / Costs


Flexibility / Adaptability




Processes and Procedures

Opportunities and Threats

Market changes and trends



Customers / Clients


Political and Government Forces


Speed of Change

Industry forces

Legal issues


Global factors

Tax changes

Law changes

Labor changes



Strategic alliances


Natural resources

Step 2:

Have participants break into four groups.  Have each group focus on identifying one of the following areas: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  Use the chart of questions below to help with the group brainstorming process.



What is our organization best at?

What makes our business unique?

What advantages do we have?


Internal elements to an organization

What resources make our company strong?What do our customers perceive as a strength?

How is our expertise and quality a strength?

What are the strengths of our brand and history?




What are our internal weaknesses and challenges?

What are our greatest opportunities for growth and improvement?

What keeps us from optimal performance?

What resources are missing?

What do our customers perceive as a weakness?

What is lacking within our leadership, employees, or business strategy?



What are our greatest opportunities?


External elements to an organization

What does the market need more of?What are our clients asking for/need?

How can we expand our core products/service offerings?

How will we use technology as an accelerator?

What economic and global trends can we capitalize on?




What are our biggest threats?

Who is our competition?  What makes them a strong competitor?

What changes in technology could threaten our business?

What changes in the market or globally could impact our business adversely?

What trends are changing the industry?

How is our customer changing?

What could negatively impact our cash flow?

Step 3:

Have each group present their part of the SWOT and then open the discussion to additions and clarifications from the group.  After all flip charts have been shared, have the entire group work to identify the top five items from each of the SWOT areas.  This creates tremendous dialogue and potential differences of opinion.  As a facilitator, allow the group to openly communicate and even disagree; through this process of productive conflict that true clarity eventually evolves.  High-trust teams openly communicate, think abundantly, listen to each others ideas, respectfully disagree and continue to work towards clarity and synergistic solutions.

Step 4:

With the condensed and prioritized SWOT list, take the time to develop key strategies and action steps.  Build and align your goals around Strengths and Opportunities, while considering how your strategies will simultaneously minimize Weaknesses and Threats. Review your current strategic plan to ensure movement in the right direction at the right time.  Make adjustments as necessary, communicate your plans to the organization, open up the process to feedback, listen to ideas, clarify roles and responsibilities and involve all team members.  As with the success of any process, the results from the SWOT Analysis come from taking action and executing . . . in other words JFDI!


The SWOT Analysis, a powerful team process, helps achieve department and organizational goals.  The speed of change requires that strategy discussions and organizational development become a regular part of ongoing operations.  Just like regular doctor check-ups, the only way to keep your organization healthy is to make strategy exercises, goal discussions and vision communication top of mind.

Culture versus Cult



What is culture? defines culture as “the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular group.” John Kotter in Leading Change defines it as “norms of behaviors and shared values among a group of people.” In Rapport’s Leadership Breakthrough One, culture is simply defined as “the way we do things around here; it’s the hearts and minds of the people; it’s the living, breathing part of an organization.”

While culture may seem like an intangible, the signs of a company’s culture are everywhere. It’s in how people dress, it’s in how they treat each other, and it’s in how they ask or do not ask questions. Each of these signs sends a signal of exactly what a company’s culture is.

Let’s say I am a new employee in a company and I am told to be at a meeting at 9 AM. Being the new person, I show up to the meeting room at 8:59. At 9:03 the next person walks in. At 9:07, three more people are in the room, and at 9:10, the meeting finally gets started. Did I just learn something about that company’s culture in the first 10 minutes of my first day? Absolutely!

Let’s compare that example with my first day at Intel Corporation. Not only was I told to be on time to my meetings, I was also instructed to come prepared with “foils” and an update on my “A.R.s”. “Foils,” “A.R.s,” I asked, dumbfounded, “What are foils and A.R.s?” Clearly, at Intel they had a culture of punctuality and they also had a culture of preparedness. Furthermore, they had their own language, as well! (BTW: The year was 1987, and “foils” are transparencies and “A.R” means “Action Required.”)

While we may have difficulty defining exactly what culture is, many businesses have even more difficulty defining how their training investment impacts the development of their cultures. While most agree that training is a “good idea,” not all agree on how it improves top line or bottom line results, and even fewer agree on how it impacts “the way we do things around here.”

The answer lies in an organization’s approach to training. If training is approached as simply a “good idea” and has no connection to the work and outcomes of the organization, its value and relevance to a culture is limited. Yet, when training is aligned and integrated into a company’s growth strategy, there is a unifying link between the classroom and the boardroom.

Many of Rapport Leadership’s clients have found success by simply linking their expected outcomes (results) to performance actions (what people do) to leadership competencies (what is learned in training) to optimize their training investment and improve their organization’s results.

There are several benefits to using training as a strategic initiative. Training creates a common language, a common set of behaviors, and a common experience that aligns people’s actions. Thus, a company’s culture and results flow out of the new actions each person takes, every day. Training provides a consistent message about what results are expected and how people are expected to achieve them. When training is aligned strategically within an organization, it is a tremendous opportunity to reinforce a company’s mission, direction, and values.


For example, in Leadership Breakthrough One, participants experience teamwork, support, and accountability at a whole new level. The team supports the individual and pushes each to give the others more. This standard of performance is maintained throughout the course and individuals will “get to do it again” with the encouragement of their team should they fail to meet the standard the first time. From that common experience comes a common language of “no sympathy voting” or “change your approach to get different results” and, of course, “Just Focus and Do It (JFDI)!”

 In just 2 ½ days, each class creates its own culture of accountability and high performance which leads to the behavior of personal responsibility. Some naysayers liken this to “a cult”. When participants come back into their organizations, they will have the ability to apply that same level of support, teamwork, and accountability to their daily work. When a company has many employees applying their training in a similar manner, then the organization begins to cultivate its own culture of accountability and teamwork. Thus, performance improves.

The purpose of any training is to enhance performance. When a company takes the time to understand how a new skill or competency affects how an employee performs his/her job, this single action enhances the employee’s opportunity to use the new skills. And when managers take the time to communicate and share how the training will impact the overall results of the organization, the engagement of the individuals being trained will increase. Finally, as these new skills become norms and as the increase in accountability and engagement spreads, a company has just begun taking their culture to another level!

Cultures are a living, breathing part of the organization. All companies have some type of culture. Every company has the choice to be intentional about the type of culture it wants to create. The question is, is your organization’s culture on purpose – or on accident? An aligned training initiative helps to insure the programs and skills being taught support and reinforce those elements of a company’s culture that are paramount to its success!

What being On-Team at Rapport (re)taught me

By Sonja Johnson


“We are here not to see through people, but to see people through” Author Unknown

What a powerful statement. Simple. Yet true. A couple of weeks ago, I had my first “On Team” experience. The class? Rapport Leadership’s Leadership Breakthrough One.

I found myself at the end of the two-and-a-half days and little did I realize, those short days, the time spent with 21 strangers, would be life changing and those strangers became friends with a bond that seemed surreal. Now, I was on the other side of the table. Mind you, having to play such a serious face I found challenging. I would have to look over at my “team partner in crime”, just to get re-focused! I then looked at the faces as they arrived into the room. The look in their faces, I knew too well, for them, it was also the unknown of what was to lie ahead.

However, I sat quietly (hard for me to do I know; another challenge overcome!), stoic, and knew that I would again, through the eyes of others, become instantaneously reminded of the fact that this would be a rejuvenation. I knew that everything I had gone through would again come full speed. However, this time, I would merely be an observer. Nonetheless, it would impact me the same.

As I sat and listened to a class who became a team, they were so full of energy, passion and most of all enthusiasm! Sitting there silently watching, often up at the ceiling and down to the floor, as they began to share stories, tears, laughs and giggles, I was immediately captivated by the fact that I was feeling that same energy, that same passion and the same enthusiasm that for one reason or another, I may have let fall by the wayside … if even an inkling of a moment, I realized being back on Team that I had. Commitments I had made I found falling to the left and right of me.

Yet, this team, so inspirational and they didn’t even realize how they impacted me, opened up my eyes once again to what I had begun to close them too. What I found so amazing though, was although I did not talk, join in, become emotional and the ceilings seemed to become a more familiar focal point, I found myself indirectly being that individual seeing them through these processes. Simply by being there. They would smile at me, would stare at me, and sometimes it was when they wanted to most likely concentrate or focus on something or someone else other than what they were being faced with. I felt that I truly did have an impact, and that I was part of a team that saw them through.

I was reminded, as subtle as could be - my career is what I DO, it is NOT who I AM. Who I am is first, a mother, to a beautiful son who needs his mom home; a woman in a loving relationship, a daughter to an amazing woman who has done so much for me throughout my life. I had that passion in having the ability to differentiate the two; then somehow, I could feel myself twisting it back around … until being On-Team. And I have since untwisted that back to where it needs to be. I have realized that commitments made are commitments kept and yet, avoid overcommiting – otherwise said, don’t let promises sit empty, fill them if you are going to commit to promise to keep them.

I gained back that passion, enthusiasm and energy in a short time. I was reminded just how this class impacted my life, not only through the eyes of others, also by having the opportunity to be a part of something so powerful, so amazing – and most importantly, I was reminded of just how powerful, strong and independent I am as a woman, as a mother, a loved one, a daughter – and with those amazing abilities, to do the best in my career. In that order.

Why Leadership Training Pays Off

financialwalkingBusiness executives are always asking training professionals to justify investing in internal and external training. These decision makers want to understand the return on investment (ROI) as they might with a new software program or a marketing campaign. Many also ask why leadership training? There is enough data available on training, including data on Rapport Leadership’s training, to justify an executive’s investment in their most valuable asset …their people.

To answer these questions, it is important to understand the current global economy. One of the greatest challenges that organizations face in their quest to thrive, is the ability to change. Thousands of companies have failed while others are thriving. The difference is those that are thriving have the ability to adapt and meet the new market realities. The quicker an organization can change, the sooner they are able to thrive. What allows companies to adapt and change is a culture of leadership.

Emeritus Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School, worldwide speaker, and the author of seven bestselling business books, John P. Kotter states: “Powerful macroeconomic forces are at work here, and these forces may grow even stronger over the next few decades. As a result, more and more organizations will be pushed to reduce costs, improve the quality of products and services, locate new opportunities for growth and increase productivity…..Leadership…creates organizations…and adapts them to significantly changing circumstances.”

In 2008, IBM came to a similar conclusion in its Global Human Capital Study: “More than ever, today’s global organizations are focusing their time and attention on maximizing the value of their workforces. As corporations, nonprofits and government entities are becoming more globally integrated, and as traditional geographic and competitive boundaries disappear, the need to identify, develop and connect talent has never been more critical.”

The study surveyed senior HR executives from 400 companies in 40 different countries. The executives identified the importance of an adaptable workforce that can rapidly respond to changes in the outside market and leadership to guide individuals through change and deliver results. These companies also cited a lack of leadership capability as one of their top workforce challenges.
Successful organizations are acutely aware of the need for leadership development and the numerous benefits of leadership training:

“The goal of leadership is to help people find their voice, where needs in the organization and marketplace overlap with talent, passion and conscience. When people truly find their voice, they don’t need to be supervised; they manage themselves because their motivation is internal rather than external.” ~Stephen Covey

Improved morale: People need to have the feeling they are learning, growing and developing new skills. This keeps them engaged.

Training helps people get connected to their company. To develop and share common goals. They believe more in their company and want it to succeed. When people start moving in the same direction with a common goal, they create a culture that will propel their company to success.

Growth is change, and it will not happen without a shift in culture that changes the way employees work, act, innovate, talk, learn and collaborate. One of the greatest challenges an organization faces is changing its business culture. Training helps organizations create this culture shift by moving people out of their comfort zones and into the leadership behaviors that drive success.

A 2008 leadership training study by Metrika-Phoenix found that leadership training strongly influenced behaviors that improve performance at work. The survey had a higher than 72% response rate, a confidence level of 97.5% and a margin of error less than 5%. Over 92% of training participants reported improvement in the following behaviors:
- Increased understanding of how their behavior impacts other people
- Willingness to take additional risks and push themselves.
- Greater willingness to support others and work as a team.
- They hold themselves and others to higher standards of accountability
- The ability to express more passion and enthusiasm.
- Greater self-confidence and a sense of increased self potential.
- More awareness of the potential in others.
- They are developing better focus on tasks and are getting better at showing initiative.

The only thing that increases productivity within an organization is people. People are the only asset that appreciates in value. People may be developed and their performance improved. All other assets like buildings, equipment and systems deteriorate and depreciate.

Talent shortages require organizations to focus on developing and retaining talent.When employees feel appreciated, they are more likely to stay with a company. Many employees feel training improves their opportunities for advancement and thath they receive the necessary tools to be more effective at work and in their personal lives. “Having employees whose work and personal lives are balanced has tangible benefits—both for the employees and the organization overall—including an increased ability to attract and retain skilled people and higher production, satisfaction, and morale.”~Joan Gurvis

More than ever, it is imperative that organizations continue to invest in their people. The current economic challenges associated with globalization demand that organizations change their approach and develop new leadership skills. It is critical that employees are more focused, confident and effective than ever before. To be effective, successful leaders will partner with outside organizations to develop their skills and serve as role models and mentors.

The ultimate responsibility to develop leadership lies with the entire organization. Effective outside partnerships are not enough. HR departments acting alone are not enough. Potential leaders must be identified and provided with direction, opportunity and guidance in order to develop. When the entire organization understands the benefits of developing leaders and works together, the necessary cultural ingredients to adapt and thrive will exist.