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Innovative training, tools & techniques for organizational sustainability

Bredenberg Associates provide proven approaches and leading-edge resources for harnessing your team's energy, talents, and creativity. Our coaches mentor leaders to cultivate cultures of trust, accountability, synergy, and get the work done. We equip your team with the leadership skills and innovation solutions to navigate nimbly and sustainably in today's environment of dynamic change.

Services we offer:

⚬ Leadership Development

⚬ Executive & Team Coaching

⚬ Strategic Visioning & Planning

⚬ High-Impact Workforce Training

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⚬ Train-the-Trainer & Certificate Programs

⚬ Organizational Learning Design & Systems

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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Disruption Brings Opportunity

Have you ever felt that your world was falling apart? That your familiar life was being ripped away and you were left not knowing what to do next?

I have. And I imagine you have too.

The news is filled with stories of people losing loved ones, homes and livelihood to fire, flood, earthquakes, mass shootings, war...pick your disaster.

Disruption is everywhere. It’s part of life. It can feel overwhelming, especially when it’s happening to you. A major effect of disruption is the feeling of loss of control. The landscape changes. Familiar landmarks disappear. Relationships are altered. We lose our bearings.

In the event of an emergency, put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.

Simple advice, but not always easy to do.

While it may seem selfish or unnatural to take care of ourselves when others are suffering, we can do more when we are centered and resourceful. Here are a few simple steps to help stabilize you and activate resiliency during stressful times.

1. Breathe - deeply and regularly. Oxygen to the brain and regular rhythms send messages to your body and brain that you are calm and in control.

2. Release and relax - recognize that you can be more resourceful when you are flowing with the situation, not resisting it.

3. Focus - give your mind a place to land where it can do its best work in creating a positive outcome. The following strategic questions engage the mind in constructive, creative thinking. Write down the answers and don’t let the negative thoughts insert themselves or take over. Staying focused on next actions is a discipline that yields better results.

  • What do I need? - Rest? Food? Shelter? Physical activity? Assurance? What can you provide yourself right now that gives you relief? What can you ask of others?
  • What do I want...instead of what is happening? Sometimes we can only focus on what’s not working. When looking at what we don’t want and asking, “What do I want instead?” will often reveal important information such as, “to feel safe,” “to have support,” “to feel competent,” “to be resourceful.” Our brains are natural problem-solvers. Give yours something constructive to focus on.
  • What is the next action? Just one next action that will move you in the right direction. It doesn’t have to be a whole plan. You don’t have to know how the situation will turn out. Just determine what the next step is...and take it. Maybe it’s to take a walk and clear your head. Maybe it’s to call a friend or coach for assurance and guidance. Maybe it’s to make a list of all the things that are swirling around in your head just to get them out so you can triage and plan. Get momentum started now.

First and foremost...take care of your precious self. YOU are a gift. You deserve to live your best life. Shine on!

Stuck about what to do next? Contact us for your free Discovery Session. It’s our gift to you.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Adapt with EPIC

A recent article from Corporate Learning called Adapt or Die: 6 Trends and Innovations Poised to Reinvent L&D, illustrates how your EPIC account, the profiles it delivers and the blended learning programs address at least 4 of these trends directly:

1. Personalized/Adaptive Learning - Everything DiSC and Five Behavior profiles use a sophisticated Adaptive Testing technique (report available upon request) that assures the most accurate report based on people's unique combination of personality and behavioral preferences.

2. Collaborative/Social Learning - The Everything DiSC and Five Behaviors of Cohesive Teams Facilitator Kits help you deliver engaging and highly interactive programs that can be used in classrooms or online platforms. The programs encourage interaction among participants and lots of shared learning opportunities.

3. Micro-Learning - The modularized programs can be delivered in "bite-sized" learning events or training follow-up sessions that reinforce classroom learning. Comparison Reports and Culture Reports deepen understanding and provide opportunities for peer interactions.

4. Adaptability Quotient (AQ) is a person's ability to adapt to change. The resources that you have access to through Bredenberg Associates and your EPIC account will not only help you adapt your training to real-world situations but also help participants gain competence for working and leading in a dynamically changing world.

Save 30% on EPIC credits and Productive Conflict Facilitation Kits during our 30th Anniversary month celebration. Order now!

Want to take your training projects to the next level? Schedule a free Discovery Session here to explore your possibilities.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Podcast feat. Ingrid Bredenberg: Leadership as a Practice, Not a Position

Change is everywhere. Is your team ready for what’s next? In a dynamically changing economic environment, teams must be responsive, resilient and results-focused. Your job is to lead your team from where it is now to where it needs to be, by creating a clear path of action. We’ll explore the Work of Leaders, a research-based approach to leadership that encourages leaders to understand their own leadership styles while developing competence in the best practices of crafting a Vision, building Alignment, and championing Execution.

In this podcast, Ingrid shares leadership tips to advance team performance; discusses the strategic framework of Vision, Alignment, and Execution; and explores leadership action plans. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Build Cohesive Teams

Join us for a virtual showcase to discover how your team can perform at a higher level through a fast, practical, and relevant approach to The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team.

Thursday, August 23 @ 2:00 pm ET
Based on The New York Times best-selling book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni, The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team program helps teams discover how to become more cohesive and productive. Learn how The Five Behaviors™ model of Trust, Conflict, Commitment, Accountability, and Results can help turn your talented individuals into extraordinary teams. 
In the virtual showcase you will learn:
  • Strategies to overcome common challenges on teams
  • How to deliver team training in a fast, practical, and relevant way 
  • Key activities that inspire cohesive teamwork
  • Best practices for unpacking The Five Behaviors model

Be our guest. Register through us at 413.522.0811 or email

There are also in-person showcases around the country. You can see the showcase schedule here. Feel free to invite your training colleagues to attend. The cost of the showcase is $20. If they register through us and attend, the fee is waived!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

5 Hokey Pokey Leadership Tips

The Art of Leadership:
The Hokey Pokey IS What It’s All About

Spending Family Guest Week at Kanuga Conference Center in the mountains of North Carolina, I’m immersed in multigenerational activities and rituals that are a rich part of this family camp. Despite this being a vacation, I can’t stop looking through the lens of leadership as I observe and participate in the activities.

As it has been since time immemorial, one of the first evenings includes circle and square dancing to live music. All ages are encouraged to participate. Even the teenagers with piercings and multicolored hair get involved. After all, they’ve been doing these dances since they were toddlers.

Watching the kids, adolescents and adults follow the exhortations of the caller to “shake your bodies, children!” I’m aware that there are important leadership lessons in the Hokey Pokey.

Put your right hand in. Put your right hand out. Put your right hand in…and shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey and turn yourself around.

1. Start with what’s easy
Most people are right handed so it’s easy to do this simple thing and get the hang of it. It lets followers know what the pattern is and breaks the ice. Newbies can see what others are doing and even the youngest can figure out which is really the right hand…if it even matters.

Put your left hand in. Put your left hand out. Put your left hand in…and shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey and turn yourself around.

2. Repeat with a variation that keeps it simple, yet interesting
People need to see progress when learning something new. Repetition is a pathway to mastery. Yet people don’t want to get bored or feel it’s too simplistic for their “sophisticated” minds. Non-dominant hands don’t work the same way as the dominant ones. It takes more attention to learn something new. The lighter people can take themselves when learning something (rather than expecting to do it perfectly the first time, like some adults do) the faster they are likely to get it.

Put your head in. Put your head out. Put your head in…and shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey and turn yourself around.

3. Shake up your thinking, try new things…then make meaning for understanding
We all know where our heads are…and many of us live there most the time. Shaking up our thinking and opening to new ideas is key element of the art of leadership. Taking our intellectual heads out and bringing our curiosity in can encourage new perspectives and solutions. It often helps to just start doing and trying things out, before getting too involved intellectually.

In our leadership trainings, we will set a context and then have people do an activity before unpacking their experience and making meaning from the exercise. Leaders can do the same as they pose strategic questions to their teams to encourage participation and let the leader listen to gain understanding of what team members are thinking. We suggest that during inquiry, leaders wait until the end of the sharing so that they can summarize what was said, affirm important points, and add anything that’s missing.

Put your back side in. Put your back side out. Put your back side in…and shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey and turn yourself around.

4. Be willing to be hokey
A leader who is willing to take risks, admit mistakes, and poke fun of him or herself creates more space for others to do the same. A leader who is vulnerable enough to show their humanity and humility creates an environment where trust can flourish. And with trust, teams can work faster and perform better. When team members feel safe enough to admit and learn from mistakes, everyone can relax, get work done…and even have fun!

Put your whole self in. Put your whole self out. Put your whole self in…and shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey and turn yourself around.

5. Play at 100%
Followers don’t just listen to leaders…they watch their actions. If leaders want change…in behaviors, actions, results…they must demonstrate what that looks like through pictures, storytelling and most of all, modeling what’s expected. This doesn’t mean always coming in early, leaving late and working over weekends. It means having a balanced life, respectful relationships, mentoring others, and giving people opportunities to shine with their unique talents. True leaders invest time in building people’s competence and confidence so that individuals and teams can work autonomously, collaborate effectively, and achieve desired results so that they all feel like winners.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Rise & Shine! Start the Day Off Right

How do you start your day?
Do you jump out of bed ready to go with energy and positive anticipation of what the day will bring?
Maybe the sounds of children, animals or other creatures rouse you to your day and there’s no time to think before you’re doing your morning routines getting yourself and everyone else underway.
Or maybe you’re more like I’ve been… Waking with anxiety and a bit of dread and pushing the snooze button for an extra 10 minutes, hoping I’ll feel better the next time it sounds.
Our morning mindset sets the stage for the rest of the day. We CAN affect, if not totally control, our moods. Here are a few tips for getting a great start to your day. Try them out and let us know how they work for you.
1. CIRCLE OF EXCELLENCE The powerful practice of Circle of Excellence is designed to put you in a mental and physical “state” of wellbeing with a positive, confident mindset. The simple 3 steps are described here: They can be used anytime and in many situations.
I start my day by tossing my imaginary Circle of Excellence on the floor next to my bed, so as soon as my feet hit the floor, I’m in the bright circle. I pause there for just a moment, imagining myself in a circle of radiant light and energy, take a deep breath, stretch, and say out loud, “It’s a great day! Everything is going to be alright!” Then I “pick up” the circle (nice back stretch), place it in my imaginary pocket (I’m still in pajamas) and head to the bathroom for morning ablutions.
2. ENERGIZING SHOWER Like many people, I take a shower in the morning. I start with warm water to clean and open pores, and then end with only cold water. Bracing! The pores slam shut and I’m fully awake. Singing or sounding is also energizing and good for stimulating the thymus gland (strengthens immune functions).
3. BRUSH TEETH WITH NON-DOMINANT HAND We have so many routines in our lives that we hardly need to think as we do them. Brushing with our non-dominant hand stimulates other parts of the brain and brings us into the present moment. While it may take awhile to become competent, (electric toothbrushes make it easier) it’s a great way to improve dexterity. Use it as a meditation for being in the present moment. Don’t forget to wink and smile at your cute self the mirror.
These practices take only a few moments, but they can launch you into your day with more energy, enthusiasm, and enjoyment (or at least a giggle).
Try them. If you like them, comment here. Or share your own morning rituals that get you going. We'd love to hear from you!
Make it a great day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Are You an Irresistible Leader?

In his recent article 3 Keys to Becoming Irresistible, John Gorman describes three characteristics that, “when taken together, create a spellbinding supernova of a person -- one who can command a room and control their destiny, one who can be both altruistic and intelligent.

Even though the examples he gives describe special people that he “adores,” they are the very qualities that we encourage leaders to cultivate to succeed in their careers and professional relationships. These characteristics may be natural to some people, but more often need to be learned and nurtured. The good news is that, once recognized as essential leadership skills, an aware person can learn and refine these qualities, leading to better relationships of all kinds.

So, what are these three keys to being irresistible?  

Humility.  The willingness to recognize that there is always more to learn. That there may be more perspectives than just yours. And that those perspectives may be even more “right” than yours. Humility is the absence of entitlement. A true leader doesn’t lead by position, but rather by purpose. Humility is the natural response as we value others, recognize our interconnectedness, and bear witness to the wondrous and fragile beauty of life.

Curiosity. “Curiosity drives an insatiable quest for knowledge, culture, novelty, experience, beauty, art and connection.” Leaders use their curiosity to drive innovation, encourage engagement and cultivate leadership in others. Rather than always having the “right answers,” effective leaders have compelling questions. Curiosity and inquiry can lead to better long-term solutions than off the cuff answers or unexamined biases. As with humility, an open mind and willingness to see things with “new eyes” are required.

Empathy. People need to know that their leaders can relate and truly care about them. Empathy does not mean that you necessarily agree or hold the same perspective as others. But the willingness to step into another’s experience and understand how they feel is the foundation for connection and rapport. It is an important precursor for honesty, which can foster trust, which in turn is essential for functional and productive relationships.

As Gorman points out, combined, these three traits amplify each other. Missing one or more component, and the magic is diminished.
1. Which of these 3 is most natural to you?
2. What quality do you want/need to cultivate more in yourself?
  3. What will that take?