Celebrate the Team

Celebration is a building block for great teams. But many of the groups that I coach consistently tell me that they wish they took the opportunity to celebrate more often. High performing teams seem to be on to the next challenge before they’ve even had a chance to come up for air.

As leaders, it’s our job to hit the pause button…and crack the champagne!

Before you pop the cork, take the time to consider the specifics. Feedback lands best when you are able to call out who did what, identify how they did it, and speak to how it contributed to the overall success of the program.

Want even more bang for your bubbly? Ask the team what they are most proud of. Give them a chance to reflect on their individual accomplishments and to shout out praise for others. Most importantly, make sure that every voice is heard.

And here’s where the money is…without judgement or pointing a finger, ask the question, “If we could do it all over again, what would we do differently?”. When a team self-identifies where they can improve, it packs a greater punch and you don’t have to be the bad guy.

Now that you’ve pinpointed areas for growth and explored potential solutions, it’s a great time to bring in a coach for an action planning session. Did that sound like a shameless plug? Well, yes it totally was. I love teams; big teams, small teams, high performing teams, teams that are struggling to figure it out…

I believe that all teams have the capacity to be great, but let’s face it, stuff gets in the way. Let’s figure it out together and light the path for an amazing 2018.


David Graham works with good leaders who want to become spectacular leaders. He also works with leaders to build high performing, super-focused teams.


Courage is leaning in

This past month I had a chance to revisit my acting days…

I was quickly reminded of the anxiety of the audition process; the nail-biting experience of call backs, the pressure of being in front of the camera, and getting the shot right. What I wasn’t expecting was sinking feeling of self-doubt, and the concern for what other’s may think when it hit the airwaves.

The negative self-talk was overwhelming, but a good reminder of what my clients must go through when I am coaching them: to embrace their fear and step out.

If you want to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, check out our blog below. Also, we’ve shared a great blog from Calm & Courageous that helps us understand more about the weight of negative thoughts and choosing to let go.

Courage is leaning in and accepting life’s challenges head on. Courage is letting go of what other people may think. So here we go, a 30 second commercial spot dedicated to each and every one of you who is living bravely, owning the moment, whatever it happens to be.

daveGrowing your business and juggling the countless demands on your time and energy? The EDGE3 Team can help. David Graham works with entrepreneurs to help them find that perfect balance.



In walked my newest client, a self-assured executive with an air of confidence that suggested that the was not easily rattled. Clearly this is a no BS, get it done kind of guy.

After exchanging a few pleasantries, we got right to the point. “What are some of the challenges that you’re facing right now?” He gave me a stock answer, but I noticed a subtle emotional shift behind the veil of confidence, so I dug a bit deeper. “What’s emotional about that for you?”

His eyes welled up and he had to turn away to avoid the flood gates from completely opening up. I realised in that moment that in his position perhaps he didn’t have someone in his life that he could share his deepest challenges with; certainly not his boss, his team, and maybe even his wife. He had worked hard to create this confident, “never let them see you sweat” exterior – the hallmark of a senior leader and provider.

To him, the emotion probably felt like weakness, but what I saw in that moment was not weakness, but real strength. A man whose character was defined by being there for those that mattered most to him. A man who desperately wanted to do the right thing.

With each question, we were able to draw out his thoughts, uncover his concerns and face his fears head on. By having a short break away from his desk, he was able to fully process his struggles and life challenges so that he could more effectively navigate the path ahead.

As a coach, I’ve learned that the most valuable thing that I can do is to be there in the moment, to meet my client exactly where they are and to hold space for them without judgment or advice.

So, do I require tears from my clients for a good coaching session?

No, but I consider it an honour when someone is comfortable enough to go to a place of truth and discovery; a place that most leaders can’t go in the boardroom. Ultimately, my hope is that the coaching process leads my clients to more confident decisions, greater authenticity and stronger, richer relationships.

What are the burning questions that you need to explore?
What would the value be in bringing more vulnerability to your work?
What fears are holding you back from having a bigger impact?

daveDavid Graham works with good leaders who want to become spectacular leaders. He also works with leaders to build high performing, super-focused teams. 


More Alike Than We Are Different

Since I was a kid, I’ve dreamed of visiting Africa. Couple that with my 7-year involvement with the TriAdventure and Nikibasika Learning Development Project, Uganda became a must visit stop on my bucket list. I could hardly wait!

One of the first experiences that we had arriving in Uganda was a Team Coaching Session with the KIBO Foundation, a company focused on developing leadership skills and unleashing the capacity of their youth. As an organization that supports many of the kids from Nikibasika, we are big fans of the work that KIBO does and were happy to support them in their growth as a team.

I partnered with Cate Creede of the Potential Group and Bonnie Ho, this year’s chair of the Triadventure, to facilitate a workshop on Fearless Leadership.

Feeling a little anxious about the experience, I mentioned to EDGE3’s Devon Domanski that I was curious to understand their challenges and how they may be different than the teams we work with in Canada. She said, “When you’re there, I encourage you to notice not how different the challenges are, but how similar they may be. What connects you?” A very wise colleague indeed… she certainly provided with a scope that shifted my perspective.

KIBO was an impressive team, indeed. Like many small business, each player must wear many different hats and to remain extremely agile in their approach. I was inspired by their respect and care for one another, their ability to approach challenges creatively and by their unwavering commitment to serve and commit to a common goal.

So, what did the team walk away with from our session? An impressive strategic plan cranked out in record time by Cate Creede…nicely done, Cate! And in the spirit of coaching, they seemed to have a renewed confidence in themselves and an awareness that the answers have been within them all along.

Go KIBO! Continue to inspire young leaders in Uganda; we are rooting for you.

daveLooking at becoming a more compassionate leader? The EDGE3 Team can help. David Graham develops good leaders who want to become spectacular leaders!


Reconnecting with Young People

Recently, I found myself enjoying a Sunday afternoon concert with one of my best friends – FRED PENNER! Yes, that Canadian childhood favourite, Fred Penner.

My girlfriend and I danced and sang along to our favourite songs from days gone by. And it was a TRIP to watch a bar packed with parents and kids experience this afternoon of whimsy.

When he sang his songs, I listened to his lyrics… sharing, kindness, being silly, equality, sandwiches… all of the good stuff and more! And it made me think, “Why am I not spending more time with young people? When did we get away from this feeling?”

To date I’m a child free adult (that could change?) who LOVES spending time with young people! At the concert, it was just a spirit lift to watch the uninhibited joy spreading throughout the room. When I’m in Auntie mode, I watch my unofficial nieces and nephews explore the world with an abundance of curiosity and fearlessness. These are all good things and I can only hope I’m absorbing the value of their approach!

This past March, I was travelling the UK with twenty-nine teenagers, ages 15-19, and am again reminded of the value of being in the presence of young people. Between giving out hugs for homesickness, having thoughtful chats, and getting my hair braided (teenaged gals really know how to lock and load a solid braid!), I felt like these young women reminded me about confidence, self-worth, resilience, and reaching for our goals.

So what’s the bottom line here? I know my position may be unique – I’m not a parent having to do all the parenting stuff, and am often the ‘cool’ adult that comes around for the fun stuff – but I’d like to know how many of us are carving out time to just hang out with young people and see what unfolds?

I think as adults, some of us move away from our inner child – and that’s okay… often life demands that of us – but what do we do to reconnect and check in with that spirit?

As leaders, there’s huge value in diversifying the breadth, scope and experience of our trusted advisors and mentors. So why not loop a child, tween or teenager in that circle? Their level of honesty allows us to notice things about ourself, our work, and our approach. They will call us adults out if necessary, and give real feedback from a truly unique perspective. And they also ask lots of good questions, keeping us on our toes! I think when we’re open to a young person’s influence, we can celebrate the strength in our experience, and continue to honour our own current and future life moments… and make adjustments as necessary. Young people are truly a worthy and insightful reset!

How can you connect with your young spirit, and what does that reveal about your current experience?

edge3_dec16_01aDevon Domanski plans dynamic client workshops, team building and appreciation-themed events. She feeds her curiousities with writing, food dreaming, and adventures in all things beautiful!

Tapping into the Team’s Resources


Dave and I were doing an interactive coaching workshop with a group of people that worked in a highly creative field, and wanted to dial into one another to catch up with everyone, share successes and carve out greater efficiencies. We did a lot of different exercises, activities, and reflections to help uncover the roots of their success, and set benchmarks for continued excellence.

And then something beautiful happened.

We asked the group: what skill would you love to share with others, and what skill would you like to learn? Their responses could be professionally, or personally driven. Some people were specific and focused on work, “I want to learn more about Mary’s approach to logistics” Others wanted to share something more personal, “I’d like to teach a photography session to inspire people to capture and share more of our work.” And others were more out of the box, “I’ve always wanted to learn to play the banjo.”

As people shared their thoughts, we captured the teachers, and the teachable topics. We helped them connect the dots so that everyone who wanted to teach something was linked up with the right audience, and the people seeking to learn various things could pursue something new, exciting, and/or useful. People were excited. And laughing. There was an abundance of positive vibrations in the room.

All of these things weren’t necessarily designed to happen in the work place, nor were they meant for EVERYONE to participate in. It was simply driven by people’s interest. Some provided resources on shared drives to review in one’s own time, others scheduled lunch and learns to bring people together, and some committed to linking up with each other before/after work to pursue a little FUN!

Ultimately, this discussion uncovered the untapped resources that were a collective skills bank; allowed people to pursue things that they were excited to teach/learn; empowered the team to go after the things they wanted to grow in both their work and personal lives – acknowledging the employer supported this balance was a big deal to the team (KEY TAKEAWAY FOR LEADERS!). And yes. We found someone who was able to teach our new friend the banjo… and someone who REALLY wanted to duet with her.

So when we’re reflecting on the things we want to give, and receive from others, tap into your surroundings.

The places, the people, and resources that are in close proximity around us can help us reach greater enjoyment, and feel more connected to one another. And help us feel like those things we ‘always wanted to do’ can happen when we just put it out there. How great and easy does that sound? I bet you’re asking your colleagues who can teach you the banjo right now…

How can you tap into the skills and passions of your team? 

edge3_dec16_01aDevon Domanski plans dynamic client workshops, team building and appreciation-themed events. She feeds her curiousities with writing, food dreaming, and adventures in all things beautiful!

Leading with Compassion

3d render

As ambitious leaders, sometimes we expect people to like/approve/admire us because of our accomplishments when in actual fact that’s not what matters to people… what matters is how we make them FEEL.

Maya Angelou said it beautifully, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. What would it be like if we applied that same principle to leadership?

Before you think that this is too “touchy-feely” for your leadership style consider this. Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn has vowed that compassion is his first principle of management. Our temptation as leaders is to get the team to do things the way that we would do them. He tries to resist that urge by getting to know each player and by putting himself in his or her shoes. This takes time, but by understanding their hopes and dreams and fears he can tap into what truly motivates them to do great work.

So how can you become a more compassionate leader? Author of “The Desire Map”, Danielle LaPorte suggests that rather than setting goals on what we want to achieve, we should set goals on how we want to feel. As leaders, perhaps we should set goals by asking ourselves:

How do I want the TEAM to FEEL?

Do you want them to feel threatened, intimidated, and afraid to make mistakes or do you want them to feel challenged, invigorated, and excited to do great work?

I am not suggesting that we should give up on sharing difficult feedback, after all, it’s an essential element to professional growth, but we need recognize their strengths, coach them and nurture their individual talents. Even transitioning someone out of the company can be an act of compassion; by keeping them in the role that they are not suited for, we may be holding them back from their true destiny.

How can you throw a little more HEART into your LEADERSHIP?

How can you show the team that you care…not just about results, but also about who they as human beings? How can you demonstrate that you are going to be their biggest champion even when the going gets tough?

Still feeling touchy-feely? Remember this: Leading with compassion leads to greater engagement; when your people are more engaged, they are more productive; when they are more productive, it leads to better results, and greater retention.

Click here to see how Jeff Weiner became a compassionate leader.

Danielle LaPorte challenges you to hone in on the 3 feelings YOU want to feel this week.

daveLooking at becoming a more compassionate leader? The EDGE3 Team can help. David Graham develops good leaders who want to become spectacular leaders!


The Gate is Closed

business man with luggage waiting in the airport

My intentions for a perfect morning of air travel came to a sudden halt when the check in machine spit out a receipt saying, “We cannot complete your check-in, proceed to the TICKET counter,” NOT the “Proceed to GATE” message I was looking for.

I missed my flight.

That’s never a good feeling. It gives you a sinking, churning-in-your-gut sensation… similar to bungee jumping – but not nearly as much fun.

I took my disappointment to the counter, acknowledging that I started the chain of events by poorly timing my morning, and mentioning the conference calls I scheduled through the day, timed ever-so-carefully around arrivals and layovers. I was expecting an eye-roll or an, “I am sorry. I can’t help you…” But I got something different. Karen, the Air Canada ticket agent, said, “I am up for the challenge!”

This was 7:30 in the morning. What was she on?

Then I saw it. She was in her groove. She got an undeniable charge out of problem solving. After a flurry of keyboard activity, shuffling of papers, and a final clunk of the stapler, she had me sorted out! I was going to make my connection, and each of my conference calls after all.

She had a look of satisfaction and accomplishment. Right person, right job! She came from a place of service. She diffused my anxiety with her commitment to the process, and her reassurance.

As I walked toward the gate, I turned and said to Karen, “Thank you for making this so easy for me. You are really great at your job.” She probably knows she’s good at her job, but she deserved to hear it from someone who earnestly appreciated her. Karen was the hero of my morning! She nodded to me, and approached the next customer with an even bigger smile. I hope she reaped the rewards of that exchange, as much as I did.

When do you find yourself truly engaged on the job?

How can you get more of that feeling every day?

How can you spark others to great work?


DaveDavid Graham is a Leadership Coach & Chief Exploration Officer of EDGE3.  Want to tap into your team’s ultimate potential? We help leaders build high-performing, super-focused teams! Call us for a free team assessment.


Nature in the City

Since 2011, EDGE3 has been coaching Canadian leaders and executives, building teams, and hosting a variety of employee engagement events. We help people find inspiration to develop the tools necessary to be the most successful and effective versions of themselves. We strive to make experiences as fun and engaging as possible, doing so in the most creative and inspiring spaces for our clients.

The most inspiring place for us, and what has driven our business ethos, is NATURE! We consistently encourage our clients to get out of the boardroom and into nature. For us, that’s where OUR best ideas happen. For our clients, it’s an opportunity to be in a space that inspires different thinking and new ideas.

Each year, we’ve developed a calendar that has become wildly popular amongst our clients. These calendars feature beautiful nature photography and thought provoking questions to keep our network moving forward. This year, our goal is to create Nature in the City – a reminder to the 100’s of Canadian leaders that display their calendar on their desk, or digitally on their computer, that nature is right at our doorsteps!

We invite photographers to submit up to 12 photos that represent Nature in the City. EDGE3 will select our 12 favourite photographs from all of the submissions to use in our 2017 calendar, and feature on our blog and social channels throughout the year. For each photograph EDGE3 selects for the calendar, we will reward the photographer with a $50 (CAD) gift card (photographers may select a gift card from a selected list of retailers/partners).

We encourage you to learn more about EDGE3 on our website, and view past versions of the calendar. To enter your photograph(s), please send photos, or links to specific photos, to: edge3natureinthecity@gmail.com

Submission deadline: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2016 – 11:59PM (EST)

Selection will take place the following week and EDGE3 will notify photographers by email. We thank everyone in advance for entering their work and participating in our project; EDGE3 will only be contacting photographers whose photo(s) have been selected.


Building Your Team…Naturally


One of my greatest pleasures with running EDGE3 is getting teams out of the boardroom and into nature. It also happens to be one of our greatest challenges. It’s tough for a business to close shop for a day or two, and understandably a leader wants to know the value.

“What lasting impact is it going to have on our team?”

As I reflect on my most recent team-building event, an immersive experience on a private island in Muskoka, I took a few quiet moments during the retreat to make some observations of the team.

  • I saw real people engage in open honest dialogue sharing what matters most to them
  • I witnessed self-discovery, humble realizations and seeing things from someone else’s point of view
  • I noticed hierarchy and ego drift away and team members coming up with innovative solutions together
  • I observed unconditional support, and team members envisioning the business they would create in the future
  • I watched a team become a TRIBE with an overarching theme that, “We are in this together!”

So are there a clear ROI measures for a team building retreat? Absolutely! But it’s critical that leaders and their coach establish clear objectives that can be measured at the end of the event. It’s also essential that each individual team member set intentions at the beginning, and create a powerful action plan at the end. And it doesn’t stop there; follow-up one month after the event will give you the biggest bang for your team-building buck!

And metrics aside, high performers want to continue to learn and grow. Companies that invest in developing their people will be more likely to retain great talent and see rewards in ways that they had never thought imaginable. When a leader gives themselves and their teams permission to recalibrate and explore, it’s truly remarkable what can grow and flourish.


David Graham is a Leadership Coach & Chief Exploration Officer of EDGE3.  Want to tap into your team’s ultimate potential? Allow us to take you out of the boardroom and into nature!