Developing Leadership Agility

Posted by Anthony Attan

Sep 30, 2015 10:29:00 PM

“Probably the most important competency for leaders to have in today’s rapidly changing world.”  What could be so powerful and important to leadership that would compel Marshall Goldsmith to make this statement?  Agility.

Leadership agility is more than just the latest buzzword in the leadership literature.  In fact, Forbes has described it as “the ingredient that will define the next generation of leaders”.   With the increasing complexity that leaders face in today’s business landscape, there is good reason why the experts are flying the agility flag. Today’s leaders must continue to rely on collaboration, connection and influence to gain business results. This requires nimbleness, as leaders make adjustments depending on whom they are interacting with and for what reason.  This adjustment, or perhaps more accurately described as alignment, is the essence of leadership agility.

Although many leaders are quick to agree that this is an important, if not necessary, competency to be successful, they often struggle in how to bring about this quality.  When I ask participants in my workshops what qualities leaders MUST have to be successful, they all tend to arrive at a similar list; passion, ambition, innovation, creativity, vision, commitment, accountability, empathy, communication etc.  I ask which of these characteristics leaders can do without, and participants always answer correctly; none of them! 

Great leaders ARE all of these things but they certainly can’t be all of these at once.  This is the heart of agility.  Great leaders know when to be what, and how to get there.  At this point, those that know FEBI well have likely noticed that what we are referring to is Whole Leadership, a concept Ginny Whitelaw developed to describe a leadership approach that utilizes all four of the fundamental energy patterns of personality.  These energy patterns, which are measured by a coaching instrument called FEBI, correspond with the four main categories of leadership success. Great leaders must be passionate, focused and courageous as described by the Driver pattern.  They must be honest, committed, and responsible as described by the Organizer pattern.  They also must communicate effectively, connect, and have empathy as described by the Collaborator pattern.  And finally, great leaders must be innovative, inspirational and have vision as described by the Visionary pattern.

A leader becomes an agile leader when they become skillful at the ability to recognize which pattern a particular situation calls for and effectively makes the shift to move into that pattern. In essence, this means shifting ones internal state to match what they want to create in the external world around them. This has been a primary focus of my own work developing leaders at all levels of the organization and why we developed the Targeting Your Leadership Energy course.  To become an agile leader, they must first gain self-awareness of how these patterns show-up with-in themselves.  I spoke much more on this topic in my Choice Magazine article on Coaching with Instruments: Taking the Guess Work out of Coaching.  Armed with this self-awareness, leaders are empowered to make a choice to shift from a preferred, and thus more utilized, pattern to one that is better aligned with the outcomes they are trying to bring about.  The more they practice this, especially with less preferred patterns, the more agile they become. 

In my own coaching I’ve found the FEBI to be the most useful framework to developing leadership agility.  In other words, agile leadership is whole leadership and the FEBI is a powerful tool to get you there.


Topics: FEBI, leadership development, whole leadership, Leadership Agility

Virtual Leadership is Whole Leadership

Posted by Anthony Attan

May 20, 2013 11:08:00 AM

In a recent issue of Training + Development magazine (February 2013), an article recapped research on what critical leadership skills were required to effectively lead a virtual workforce.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Establish and meet metrics for work projects and goalsVirtualLeaders
  • Be extremely clear with goals and directions with a constant focus on the big picture
  • Work with a high degree of complexity
  • Promote organizational commitment

The article goes on to talk about the importance of effective communication, increasing feelings of connectedness, ensuring clear working protocols, and remaining focused on goals.  In other words, virtual leadership is whole leadership.

By whole leadership we are describing an approach to leadership in which we develop all four energy patterns, as assessed by the FEBI coaching tool, so that we can utilize each when it's called for.  Although we have preferences for which pattern we naturally use most, which we call the home pattern, we also have access to all four, and the ability to strengthen any of these patterns enough so we can use them when we need them.

Working with leaders of top companies around the globe, we find that the most successful leaders are those who can use any of the four patterns, and the right pattern at the right time.  They have self-awareness of their natural pattern preferences, they know how to win on those strengths, AND they develop access to weaker patterns so that they can still be effective when the situation calls for something different than their typical, home-pattern repsonse.  Although partial or short-term success is possible by developing and focusing only on one's natural style, each pattern is indispensable in the long run.  Leaders need the

  • Driver’s focus, ensuring they clear barriers, motivate their people, and reach goals
  • Organizer’s stability, ensuring quality by building process, defining roles and responsibilities, and maintaining conscientiousness in everything they do.
  • Collaborator’s engagement, ensuring effective problem solving by seeing multiple perspectives, meeting people at an emotional level, and being fully engaged while engaging others.
  • Visionary’s expansiveness, allowing them to embrace the chaos, expand their world to all that is possible, and be more effective at strategic planning for the future.

Could you imagine a leader lacking any of these qualities?       

Leading virtual teams and organizations is much like leading their face-to-face counterparts except more difficult, and so requires more focused effort to be successful.  My dissertation research was on virtual team effectinesness, in which I studied real teams in real companies, all with real challenges. Virtual teams struggle more with building trust and maintaining full engagement.  Their members make more cognitive errors (e.g., false assumptions), and share less information among themselves. These challenges result in less effectiveness when attention isn’t given to overcoming them.  One reason for this added struggle is that virtual teams communicate in less feedback-rich ways, such as phone and email.  When we, as the receiver, have less information from our communication mode (think facial expression and tone of voice), we tend to fill in the ‘blanks’ on our own. Personality is the lens through which we filter this information, which can get us into trouble when our filter is unknowingly distorted.  Suddenly a short email response or an unanswered phone call makes us frustrated as we conclude that our co-worker is disengaged and unmotivated.  In virtual communication we are more at risk of drawing a false conclusion because we tend to have less information in the communication mode.  My research showed that simply helping people become self-aware of their own filter (i.e. personality or home pattern), reduces these errors and ultimately increases team effectiveness.  We found that even one session of FEBI coaching led to a significant increase in virtual team effectiveness. 

I would further argue that it's not just any coaching but FEBI specifically that is best positioned to help increase virtual team effectiveness because of its whole leadership approach.  As we saw in the list at the beginning of this article, whole leadership is equally as important to virtual leaders as well. 

  • (Organizer) Establish and meet metrics for work projects and goals
  • (Driver) Be extremely clear with goals and directions with a constant focus on the big picture
  • (Visionary) Work with a high degree of complexity
  • (Collaborator) Promote organizational commitment


You see, virtual leadership is whole leadership!


Want to learn more about how to use FEBI to develop teams?  Join us on June 8th for our upcoming free webinar.  Click the link below to register.


Topics: FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, Coaching Tool, energy patterns, leadership, whole leadership, virtual leadership, team development

FEBI: The Power of all Four

Posted by Anthony Attan

Jan 31, 2013 1:35:00 PM

In this final part of the five-part blog series called The Patterns of FEBI we look at the power of combining all four.  This series explores each pattern measured by the FEBI.  The FEBI is a validated psychometric assessment and coaching tool that measures four fundamental patterns of personality and the various contexts in which they are expressed; cognition, physical movement, emotions, environment, etc.


When thinking of what to write for this post I was hoping to start with a funny story, a wise saying or some brilliant research.  What instead kept popping in my head was the theme song to a cartoon from my childhood, Captain Planet.  The basic plot of this cartoon was five extraordinary people around the globe had special powers derived from the planet; wind, water, earth, fire, and heart.  When villains sought to harm people, animals or the environment, one of the five would spring into action, utilizing their superpowers to fight crime and take down the bad guys. When a force was too great for one of them to take on, however, they would combine their powers, summoning Captain Planet: “With your powers combined, I am Captain Planet!”


describe the imageSo far in this blog series, we have seen how important each energy pattern of FEBI can be: How the Driver can be a great warrior, ensuring we clear barriers and reach our goals.  How the Organizer can give process to our brilliant ideas, giving them a way to become reality.  How the Collaborator can recharge our internal batteries, allowing us to be fully engaged and engage others.  How the Visionary enables us to embrace the chaos, expanding our world to all that is possible. Interestingly, these four patterns aren’t far from Captain Planet’s elements of fire (Driver), earth (Organizer), water (Collaborator) and wind (Visionary), and all of them manifest heart. Could you imagine being at your best with any of these players not on your bench?   

The good news is you don’t have to; you have all four of these patterns available already and, with a bit of awareness and practice, you can summon the right pattern at the right time! 


Through our work with leaders around the globe we have found that the most successful leaders are those who are best able to utilize all four aspects of themselves.  In one chapter of The Zen Leader, author Ginny Whitelaw asks a group during a leadership development program to describe a ‘whole leader’.   Here is what they say:


“gets the big picture and the details, drives results, gets it done, is good with people, thinks short-term and long-term, has a clear focus but still listens, balances work and life, can handle ambiguity, works well with diverse people…”


To become such a multi-faceted leader, you better have a full bench!  The best leaders do.  And this goes beyond corporate leadership.  If you’re a parent, a coach, an artist, a teacher, a sailor, a nurse, or an active member or your neighborhood, to be at your best you need all four.  No wonder the Captain Planet theme song kept ringing in my head!


While you don’t have to hum the theme song or dress up in blue tights and a cape, the power of multi-faceted excellence can be yours.  It starts with self awareness.  While it is certainly true that we have the ability to summon all four energy patterns, we also have preferences.  In psychology we might call this personality type.  Most people have a preference for one or two of these patterns, naturally utilizing those patterns more often – both when they’re useful and when they’re not.  Conversely, most people also have one or two patterns they use less often; it takes more energy to engage these weak patterns and may cause some discomfort.  Discovering what patterns you prefer and don’t prefer, what you are utilizing and not utilizing, is the first step in creating that full bench of pattern players.  Perhaps you already have a sense of your preferences just from reading this blog series.  If you want a more scientific answer, you can complete the FEBI, a validated psychometric assessment that measures these four patterns and tells you to what extent you prefer each of them. It will also show you numerous ways to cultivate a weak pattern, and how they might help you.  Armed with your newfound self awareness, you can begin to use your personality more fully, rather than be stuck in it.  You’ll also gain new insights into those around you, and be able to pick out which patterns they prefer.


As we saw throughout this blog series, certain patterns are best at engaging certain situations.  For example, the Visionary is best for creating a strategic vision.  The Organizer is best at creating steps to bring that vision to reality, and so on.  You’ll begin to have awareness of what pattern is best for a particular situation.  Putting this all together, with a bit of practice and intention, you can become proficient at bringing out the right pattern at the right time.  Since we do have preferences, those patterns that are least preferred do require more energy and intention to access. You can kickstart any pattern by engaging its various forms, such as using physical movement, cognitive activities, playing a certain kind of music, or putting yourself in a particular environment. Take time to practice engaging all the patterns, especially those that you are less comfortable with. This will allow those bench players to be ready when they are needed – when your inner equivalent of Captain Planet needs to summon those elements.  With your powers combined, what couldn’t you handle?


Need help getting started using all four patterns?  Download this worksheet from best-selling book, Move to Greatness, to learn how to build your own best by effectively utilizing all four energy patterns of FEBI.

Want to learn more about FEBI?  Join us on February 12th for the free webinar, Energize Yourself, Energize Your Business with FEBI.

Register for Webinar


Topics: FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, FEBI Certified Coach, energy patterns, leadership development, Visionary, whole leadership, managing energy, Organizer, Collaborator, Driver, whole leadership. whole leadership development, whole self

What is Whole Leadership?

Posted by Anthony Attan

Feb 24, 2012 1:39:00 PM

If you are reading this post you have likely heard the term ‘whole leadership’ and are wondering what in the world we are talking about.  You also likely care enough about leadership to wonder in the first place.  Fear not, you are in the right place.

Picture these scenarios, the leader who…

  • Has brilliant ideas but lacks the follow through to do anything with them.

  • Is incredibly hard working when alone but lacks the ability to connect or work with others.

  • Is laser focused on ambitious goals but fails to anticipate where the industry is going.

Do these people sound like the next successful leader?  The next great CEO?  Our research says most likely they are not.  Why?  They are all partial leaders. 

Although leaders should know their strengths and use them to reach desired goals, those same strengths can also get in the way of success when overused.  For example, you could have a real strength of breaking down big processes, analyzing all of the individual parts and get stuck in those details, not seeing the forest for the trees.  Or you’re a great innovator but you spend so much energy creating that nothing gets done. Whole leaders know how to use their strengths AND know when something else is needed.  Recognizing that AND often means a paradox. Whole leaders know how to strike the right balance between leveraging strengths while not becoming a victim of them. 

To further describe whole leadership let me concentrate the discussion on the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of whole leadership.  First the ‘what’.  One thing that is certainly not new about leadership, or personality in general, is that we take on preferences in how we show up in the world.   These preferences have been call personality types, cognitive modes of thinking or behavioral tendencies.  From our research, and similar to many models in the past, there are four main preferences, which we call energy patterns of personality

  • Driver – laser focused, drives for results, challenges barriers, stretches for goals, loves to win, gets to the point, fast and direct, and independent. 

  • Organizer - does the right thing, moves step by step, proper, likes order, plans and lists, neat and tidy, stable and reliable. 

  • Collaborator - engages people, has fun, rolls with the punches, sees both sides, works around obstacles, plays in the give and take, builds teams and networks. 

  • Visionary - goes with the flow, lets go, thinks in leaps, sees the big picture, seeks harmony, thinks strategically, future-oriented.

Our research has found that although we tend to favor one or two of these patterns, which we call Home Patterns, the most successful leaders are those that can easily access all four and are able to use the right pattern at the right time.  These whole leaders are able to thrive with their strengths, while not getting stuck in them.  They are able to recognize what the situation demands, what pattern is best aligned with that demand and effectively enter into that pattern to approach the situation with the right energy. Whole leaders know their strengths but have also developed a full tool box so that when their home pattern isn’t best, they can flip into what pattern is. 

This brings us to the ‘how’.  To become a whole leader means developing your whole self.  As models on personality have evolved, we now know that patterns of personality are actually impacted by a range of interconnected elements such as cognition, behavior, communication styles, our environment, our emotions and how we physically move.  The whole leader uses all of these elements collectively to develop these patterns.  At Focus Leadership, we have developed a tool called the Focus Energy Balance Indicator (FEBI) to measure these energy patterns and help leaders develop their whole self.   




Topics: FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, FEBI Certified Coach, energy patterns, leadership, leadership development, whole leadership development, embodied learning, whole leadership

Energy Patterns Helping To Form New Habits

Posted by Anthony Attan

Feb 9, 2012 9:18:00 AM

We are now five weeks into the New Year and for many this means resolutions are beginning to fade in lieu of old habits.  What is the best intention on January 1st often becomes just another a failed resolution by now.  By March, many of us have for forgotten them all together.  So, what will make this year different?

I should first point out that I am not against resolutions.  In fact, quite the contrary, I think it is really important to take the time when the calendar changes to reflect on the past year and verbalize goals for the future.  Take the time to stop and reflect on all that you have accomplished in the past year, what your greatest challenges were and your greatest victories.  I find myself getting so caught up in the daily grind that I lose sight of all that has occurred over the past year.  So I encourage everyone to take the time to reflect, celebrate those victories and learn from those struggles.  

Next, think of what you want to accomplish this year.  What needs to happen so that on January 1st, 2013, you will look back on your year and say, “2012 was a great year!”  The energy patterns can help with this effort.  Enter the Visionary pattern to help you broaden your thinking to be more future oriented and picture what would have to happen to make 2012 a successful year.  Stay in this pattern and envision what the emotion is and really feel into what a great 2012 would feel like.  You don’t have to do this alone, in fact, you shouldn’t do this alone.  Enter Collaborator and share your thoughts and this feeling with others, building on the collective energy of those around you.  Next, enter the Organizer pattern and capture what needs to happen to make it a great year.  Think of the steps that must occur for those things to happen and write those down too.

So, how do we prevent this year from being just another year of broken resolutions?  For this we will summon our inner warrior, which we call the Driver energy pattern.  The key is to turn good intentions into habits that define us.  The Driver energy can help as the best way to form a new habit is to start today.  It’s really that simple: every day enter Driver and get it done!  If ‘it’ is working out, the best way to form an exercise habit is to workout TODAY!  Not tomorrow, not next week, but today.  And tomorrow will turn into your new today so guess what, it's again time to summon the Driver and workout today.  Eventually, this will become a habit, as the activity will occur with minimum thought and more psychological distress will arise when not doing the activity - even when the activity is hard.  Until then, let your Driver be your inner warrior, fighting for today.

As we see in leadership, the patterns can support your efforts in making 2012 a great year.  Just as whole leadership has shown to be best practice in business, so can all the patterns support you in forming new habits, reaching goals and creating an amazing year.  This year, let your whole self, with all the potential within you and all the support around you, make it the best one yet!

MiniFEBI Button


Topics: FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, energy patterns, leadership, leadership development, whole leadership development, energy, whole leadership, managing energy, managing stress

Interview with FEBI Coach Rhonda Morton

Posted by Anthony Attan

Feb 1, 2012 3:51:00 PM

Recently FEBI Certified Coach Rhonda Morton was interviewed by the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy.  In addition to sharing her expertise on the power of empathy, Rhonda discussed how the FEBI has helped her clients reach their full potential. 

“…when working with individuals and groups I have this tool called FEBI [Focus Energy Balance Indicator].  It was developed by a women named Ginny Whitelaw.  She took energy patterns in our bodies that exist, like the way that our muscles work, the way that our neurons fire and the way that our nervous system works and based on that came up with four types; Driver, Organizer, Collaborator and Visionary.  To make a long story short, it’s a shorthand or a lens to look at how we behave ourselves and how we interact with other people.  And what I love about it is that it is so simple, it’s four types and they are words we understand and we get it.  When I start explaining it, people are like ‘oh yea, I’m a Driver/Organizer’ or they say ‘oh, that’s why I can never go shopping with my daughter, she’s a Visionary and I’m a Driver, I just want to get it done and she wants to touch everything’…”  

Rhonda went on to say, “We are by no stretch of the imagination the same, we don’t think the same or feel the same.  So once you can have that awareness and you can start looking at life through that kind of lens, it’s like there is an easiness that comes from it, just knowing that drops the frustration, drops some of the resisting what is…I find that when I introduce these four ways to approach the world, that it tunes up through your whole body…when people get that and they have this language to talk about it, it’s like grease, it just makes things go smoother.”

Click HERE to watch the full interview.  Under that video is also a video of Rhonda giving a TED talk on being an ‘Empathy Ambassador’.  If you would like to learn more about Rhonda and the great work she is doing, visit her website at http://www.possibilityapplied.com/




Topics: FEBI, Focus Energy Balance Indicator, Coaching Tool, FEBI Certified Coach, leadership coaching, leadership development, whole leadership development, energy, whole leadership

Welcome to the FEBI Learning Lounge

The official FEBI blog

The FEBI Learning Lounge is the official blog of FEBI Assessment.  In this blog we discuss all things related to the energy patterns of FEBI, digging more into each of the patterns of personality and discussing various applications that can benefit from a pattern perspective.

Also visit the Zen Leader Blog



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