It's Not About The Money, Money, Money

Happy Business people.png

 

Have you ever watched a movie or TV show that features people in their work environment and thought "wow, that is exactly what my company is like?"  You know, that feeling of familiarity when you see the characters interacting?  You identify with their struggles and it gives you a sense of peace that others struggle with some of the same things that you do. 

Here are a few movies that come to mind as Hollywood tries to address some of the corporate environment elements that we face:

  • Office Space -A classic satire view on a passive-aggressive culture that highlights how workers can be dehumanized by leadership and the employee bonds that form to fight the good fight because of it. 
  • Up in the Air – A story of aggressive culture who lack communication skills and foresight.  For anyone who has been through a merger or acquisition, this one might hit home. It explores how consultants come in and out of businesses making swift changes without a thought to people impacts. 
  • Horrible Bosses – An over the top view of oppressive workplaces and the extreme length employees will go to just to get rid of their bosses. 
  • The Intern – A story that challenges the notion of generational gaps in the workplace and the uncertainty of our careers at any given moment. 

Let me first say, we have some amazing companies out there with amazing cultures. They live and breathe by their values and mission.  On the flip side of that, we also have some companies that may remind you of the movies previously mentioned. The morale of this post is to really peel back the layers of what people want and desire in their careers. And more notable what they expect from their place of employment. 

An article was just released that is very telling about this exact subject.   It was a study about what employees really want.  Often times the assumption is that money will pacify people or engage them more in their work. But just like Jessie J says in her song Price Tag,

It's not about the money, money, money
We don't need your money, money, money”

I believe while that money works for a short period of time, it isn’t the solution for the long term. 

The Harvard Business Review article, What Matters More to Your Workforce than Money, confirms my belief.  It stated "One of the most striking results we’ve found is that, across all income levels, the top predictor of workplace satisfaction is not pay: It is the culture and values of the organization, followed closely by the quality of senior leadership and the career opportunities at the company."

This probably comes with very little surprise to most of you. Many organizations use employee engagement surveys to temperature check how people are feeling about various aspect of their job, manager, senior leaders and the company as a whole.  Using a survey like this offers a lot of information that can help organizations highlight their successes and course correct where necessary. The big question is what are organizations really doing with the information?

As an HR professional for the last 16 years, I have consulted on and led organizational development processes and programs mapped to this very subject.  I must agree that many times the course corrections needed shine brightly around the organizations culture and values. 

Does the company walk their talk and offer processes that allow people to uphold the values? 

The bigger question is, do the values really matter?  Is the culture one thing on paper, but another story in the day to day lives of employees?  Often in onboarding programs, the company puts its best foot forward and highlights their mission, vision and value statements.  They talk about their products and services that uphold those values.  The best of the best show up to immerse you into the company.  For some, the journey in their career at that company is exactly what was presented.  For others, they immediately see a different story from their peers, boss or others they come into contact with on a daily basis.  And it can feel exactly like the movies mentioned above.

The culture of an organization is pretty simple.  Collectively the people who work their exhibit patterns of behavior.  As new people enter the organization, they are taught a certain way of perceiving events, thinking and feeling.  It’s often known as what it takes to thrive (and sometimes survive) in a company.  These patterns of behavior effect the organizations ability to operate internally and externally.

As you can tell, this topic is near and dear to my heart.  I coach leaders around mindset and behavior that will enable them to be successful in their careers.  I help them identify derailers that could hold them back from getting to the next level or even just hold them back from fully enjoying the work that they currently do.  99.9% of the time it comes back to organizational culture and the behavior they exhibit to survive. 

Over the last couple of years, I have been immersed in conversations about organizational culture and values. Many of which stopped me dead in my tracks and had me shaking my head.  As organizations continue to mature in their people processes there becomes a need to make connections between:

  • Organization Values: the manner in which the company conducts business
  • Employee/Leadership Standards: the way in which employees/leaders uphold the organizational values
  • Competencies: the skills and behaviors employees/leaders are held accountable to

These must all be in alignment, in all organizational processes, if there is any hope for executing the business strategy.  Sure, it can be accomplished short-term, but if employees are not engaged, do not feel valued and do not understand how their work fits into the bigger picture the struggle will lead them down a path that can cost the organization a lot of time, effort and money.   

As discussed in the Harvard Business Review article, the workforce will not be pacified by money.  They will leave their organization in search of greener pastures.  Therefore, if an organization wants to be wildly successful, it is vital that all employees can see that connection between what they do every day and where the organization is going.  They need to feel trust and respect.  They need to know that everyone is accountable to the values and marching in the same direction to accomplish the goals.

In fact, many employees are evaluated on how well they uphold the values in employee appraisals, employee engagement surveys and in any type of 360 leadership assessment that they may be using. If this is true, then the success of the employee and their engagement in their work relies heavily on the organizations ability to live and breathe the values. It's not meant to be something shown on a website or posted on a wall. 

I would love to hear insights from all of you.  If you are in a rockin’ culture, tell us what it feels like and what keeps you engaged.  If you’re in a not so ideal culture, tell us what your organization could be doing better to keep you engaged.  AND if you are really creative, if you could make a movie about your company culture, what would it be like?  Can you think of a movie that depicts your ultimate corporate culture?


About New Dimensions Coaching

At New Dimensions Coaching, our vision is a healthy and purposeful work environment in all corporations.   We strive to enable a community where leaders bring that vision to life thus driving positive business results. To bring that vision into reality, our mission is to empower leaders to identify their core leadership styles and the roadblocks that hold them back from creating a thriving culture for the employees and ultimately high levels of productivity.

If you are a leader who wishes to join New Dimensions Coaching in this movement to change the way we engage our employees so everyone can have meaningful work in a positive environment, reach out to Heather Parks today. We can begin this journey together by getting clear with your team and shifting the energy towards profitability!!!

 

4 Steps to Reclaiming Your Career: The Leadership Challenge

Leader Searching

Do you ever have those days where you wonder is there something better out there?  It’s those days when everything seems to be crashing in on you.  Looming deadlines, phones ringing, employee issues popping and what feels like unrealistic expectations.  You begin to doubt your team and secretly whether or not you can lead them to accomplishment the tasks at hand?  It’s called complete sensory overload.  AND, it can consume you fast if you don’t recognize what lies behind it.

We live in a corporate world where change is inevitable and priorities change faster than a blink of an eye.  It becomes the leader’s responsibility to manage themselves though the change first and then bring the team along with them.  This requires a deep sense of your own thoughts, beliefs and trigger points. 

I work with many leaders who claim to struggle with delegation, time management, funding and sometimes the right people in roles under them.  When you start to break down the underlying message in 99% of the cases, it truly is about trust; self-trust and trust in others.  When you don’t trust your own ability to see options outside of the obvious you feel trapped.  You also begin to project that outwardly because it simply feels better to believe that it’s others capabilities worrying you vs your own. 

What does it cost you to believe this way?  It costs you peace of mind, empowerment and the worst outcome – lack of engagement.  It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The more you stay in the negative energy of “I can’t,”  “I lose,” “it’s your fault” or “we lose” you actually are attracting more of that stress to you.  You unconsciously seek out issues because it is all you can see. You are limiting your creativity, your options, and underlying ability to reconcile and bring synergy to the tasks at hand. 

Stephen M. Covey and Greg Link talk in great detail about this in their book Smart Trust.   When you begin to open your eyes and see the opportunity in your overwhelm you can communicate, collaborate and engage people more effectively about what you need and want.  And the ultimate light at the end of the tunnel, you can do it quickly and powerfully.  You create, as Covey & Link put it, “prosperity, energy, and joy.” 

There is always going to be change and stress.  A wise person once told me, pain is inevitable…suffering is optional.  There are four-steps that I teach leaders to help put some perspective behind the stress that they feel. 

Step 1: Assess it:

What are you really overwhelmed with?  What does it feel like?  Is it a heart racing, palms sweaty feeling?  Is it a punch in gut kind of feeling? 

What is that feeling really telling you?   Is it saying “I’m not smart enough to make this happen?”  That is in internal struggle.  That kind of internal message is rooted in years of conditioning.   It may not even be apparent to you where that smidge of doubt started.  We live in a world full of rules from the time we are little.  It teaches us to avoid mistakes because there are consequences.  So, we strive for perfection and then we are less likely to feel anything negative.  But setting that kind of expectation on ourselves or others around us can be detrimental.  Perfectionism is a facade.  Now is the time to assess the judgment we place on ourselves and others.  Let’s look at the external judgment for a minute.  Instead of being hard on yourself, you may project outwardly (even if you don’t say it outwardly). It may be an external struggle that says “Who do they think they are?  They don’t care at all about what I go through every day just to make this place run.” 

Whatever you are feeling about the overwhelm, you need to start naming it.  And the most important thing you need to do is figure out what makes you feel valued.  When you get to a place of overwhelm there is something that you really value and it feels like it’s being ignored.  It’s your trigger.  Once you can actually name it, you can begin step 2.  This is a good exercise to run with your team, as well.  If they are in a rut, you need to understand what makes them feel valued.  You can see my blog “Hello Leaders! Your Mission For Today Is….” for more help with an exercise.

Step 2: Unravel it:

This phase is about understanding your patterns.  Where did they begin, how have they served you in the past and how are they serving you now.  You're ready to really delve deep and understand where your thoughts, beliefs and self-perceptions started. We often move through our careers and life in general experiencing positive and negative events but never really connect the dots behind how those events create our self-image and behaviors.  It's moving from unconsciousness to consciousness.  It’s about understanding that any change involves fear. It’s just easier sometimes to stay on your current path.  BUT, having clarity about why you want to change can help you overcome the fears and is the foundation of your success.

You can begin this step by challenging yourself to understand whether or not you want to change the current situations. Ask yourself: 

  • What is painful about your current situation?
  • What would you gain by changing it?
  • If you are to make a change, what would you have to give up?
  • How will you be a different person when you make the changes you desire?
  • Why do you want to be that other person?

Step 3: Own It:

Once you can put your finger on that message inside you and whether you want to change it, now it’s time to begin making some real progress.  You know your values and you know what may be getting in the way of allowing you to lead from a place of integrity.  Create a review of your career. 

  • When in your career did you feel completely valued?
  • Where were you getting everything you wanted and needed?  You were passionate and on fire! 

That’s the place you need to get back to, not only for you but for the people that interact with you daily.  If you’re firing on all cylinders, then you are more likely to engage others from a new place and they will in turn be right there with you!

Another great exercise is putting the situation in perspective.  What is really happening?  There is a difference between “truth” and “true”.  Truth is the lens you put on your situation.  It is what you believe to be the real situation.  For example, the company decides to create a new strategic initiative and requires that you support it with time and effort from your team.  As a leader you may look at it and say – “my team cannot take one more assignment.  We are at complete capacity.”  You begin to feel overwhelmed with more one thing to do or maybe even angry that they can’t see what is already on your plate.  That is your “truth,” but the reality is the only “true” thing is that there is a new project.  If you can open up your mind and perspective, you could see that this is a perfect opportunity to develop someone on your team.  Or, you could work with your team to re-prioritize the workload.  You could communicate with intent and confidently about what you need from the organization to make it all happen.  You could be excited about the potential this new initiative could bring.  It’s all about how you see it. 

Ask yourself these questions –

  • How true is my belief about the things that are overwhelming me?
  • Where did that idea really come from?
  • What is the cost of the belief to myself and those that I lead?
  • What is another way to look at it?
  • What would be the complete opposite way of thinking about this situation?

Whether or not you fully believe the answers to the questions is not as relevant as the ability to see a full range of options.

Step 4: Share It:

Communicate, communicate, communicate.  If you want people to understand you and the decisions you make, you need to be transparent.  Building credibility is about connecting and people believing in you.  Leaders have to make tough decisions all the time.  It’s the nature of the job.  It’s about making the best decision you can, given the information that you have at the time.  Your team is not always going to like a decision that you have to make BUT if they know your intentions and trust you, they can respect it.  If you want to build a meaningful career and gain followership, the secret sauce is in how much you communicate and how authentic you are when you’re communicating.  People can sense your true intentions.  If you make it a point to have daily (or weekly) communication around the challenges you face and recognize the wins of a team, together you can you drive towards success.  Try this exercise for just one month with your team…you won’t regret it!

Part One: Take a people inventory

  1. Make a list of the people on your team.  What strengths do they bring to the team?  What is it about them (the characteristics) that makes you enjoy leading them?
  2. Take that same list and now look at the areas of opportunity.  What is it about them (their characteristics) that creates hesitation for assigning them certain work?
  3. Have a very in-depth conversation with each about aspirations.  Could you assign work differently so each person is playing to their strengths 90% of the time?  What development could you offer them to close any gaps on the opportunity? 

 

Part Two: Take a personal inventory

  1. Now, rate yourself against the characteristics.  You are always the teacher and the student.  What can you learn from each of them?   What part of you do you want them to see the most?  

 

Part Three: Take Action

  1. Share what you’ve learned with your team.  Get their input on how you could tackle changes that happen in the business priorities.  Ask them how they would like to interact with you more.  Ask them to give input into how the work gets down.

 

This is an exercise in living up to your own values but also allowing your team to live up to theirs.  This is an exercise in living up to your own values but also allowing your team to live up to theirs.  It all boils down to trust and credibility.  Trust is built when you understand your own intent and mindset so you can be more authentic with your team. When you are all on the same page, the team and engagement is full of contagious energy that ultimately will drive business results.  Most importantly, it will change you as a leader.  It will help you manage change, stress and your own behaviors differently.  It offers new insights and a sense of peace that’s been waiting to re-emerge for a very long time.

If you would like to get deep into this process and truly understand how your patterns have driven your leadership mindset, reach out to me today.  You are so close to having it all and making an impact!  It’s just few mindset shifts away!!

 

Source: www.ndcoaching.com

Hello Leaders! Your Mission For Today Is...

I love the movie Charlie’s Angels (and the TV show, but I’m dating myself).  In each scenario the ladies are given a mission to accomplish.  They always get that famous line…”Hello Angels, your mission today is….”   Or how about the Mission Impossible famous line of” your mission should you choose to accept it is…”  Every day is a new situation and a new mission to accomplish the overall vision of putting an end to crime by catching bad guys.

When working with clients, I spend a lot of time discussing issues that leaders face every day and working through how they can handle situations.  The mission may not be crime fighting but they definitely serve an important purpose in the life of the organization.  They also accepted the mission when they accepted the role of a leader.  In my conversations, we talk about the options (sometimes in hindsight) and how to move forward.   What I find is 99.9% of the time, the conflict they feel in carrying out their mission is deeply rooted in the leader’s personal value system.  

Values are at the core of every decision we make as leaders.  I think that’s a scary thought or at least one that corporations sometimes try to avoid discussing.  It’s “fuzzy, fluffy and emotional.” In my own words, it can even be messy.  Sadly what I’ve learned is according to some, it’s something that should be avoided in the workplace.  I’ve even heard my clients say, “we are manly men…we don’t talk about our emotions or what we value.  We just work hard and hit our KPI’s.”  Being vulnerable and understanding the how and why behind decisions is not always rewarded. 

On the flip side of that, I see those same clients consistently discussing their mission as an organization.  What I find interesting is that as organizations, we create mission and vision statements but without understanding the underlying values.  AND without that, it is very difficult to truly make the mission and vision come to life. 

Have you ever been in a team building meeting and been asked to create your vision statement?  You may be rolled your eyes or said to yourself “not again”.  I think that happens because we don’t truly walk the talk and believe in it.  We see it as a waste of time and something that will just collect dust on the shelf once we’re done.  I’m not going lie…I’ve been there, done that. 

I firmly believe, if done properly, it can change the game for an organization.  It is the lifeline of how people and the work they do fit into the bigger picture.  I also believe there is a lot of confusion around what a mission and vision really are for an organization.  What I do know is it’s not just words that we post on a wall and claim that we all believe in them so we can get back to our “real jobs”. 

Let’s go back to the basics and just talk about vision and mission for a moment.  A vision is the impact you want to make on the community (clients) that you serve.  For example, At New Dimensions Coaching, our vision is a healthy and purposeful work environment in all corporations.  It’s not about the future you want to create for the company.  It’s about the impact you want to have on those that you serve.  I envision leaders joining me in this movement to change the way we engage our employees so everyone can have meaningful work in a positive environment.

A mission statement now takes that a step further.  If the work was done and we were to say “mission accomplished,” the statement is about what you do and why you exist.  I will continue my example with my own company’s mission statement.  New Dimensions Coaching’s vision is a community where leaders create a healthy and purposeful work environment that drives positive business results. To bring that vision into reality, our mission is to empower leaders to identify their core leadership styles and the roadblocks that hold them back from creating a thriving culture for the employees and ultimately high levels of productivity.

Now the big one…and the one that is usually missing, but the one that connects it all is the value system.  How will you go about the work that you do?  It’s the whole notion of walking the talk.  That means first looking at those that you serve.  If you truly want to accomplish your vision, what values need to be present and emphasized to serve your community?  Take that a little further, how will you reflect those values as a leader with the teams that you lead?  How will you model the values?  This becomes so important when it’s time to make a decision.  Especially a tough decision…If you are not in alignment with your own values and the values of the organization, then it makes it very difficult to walk the talk. 

Here are a few tips on how you live and breathe your mission, vision and most importantly your values.

  1. Don’t assume that your leader, peers and team share your values.  You know what they say about assuming anything…J  You should be hosting that all important team building session to get it out on the table.  You need to understand every one’s perspective of what it means to work based on the values you create together.  It’s about setting expectations!  It’s also about helping everyone see how they fit into the bigger picture so they can bring their strengths to the table. Create guiding principles that allow everyone to be on the same page about how you will operate and how you will make decisions.

  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate!  As a team discuss your individual values and how that ties to the corporate vision and mission frequently. Not just that one time when you were all together getting it down on paper.   Once a month, start your meeting with reviewing the mission, vision and values of the team and the organization.  What success did you have? Where did you fall short?  Hildy Gottlieb discusses this in an article called 3 Statements that Can Change the World, “Absent a values-based context for decision-making, groups are more likely to default to fear-based decision-making when things get tough. And those fear-based decisions are more likely to cross the very lines we would have agreed we would not cross, had we talked about those values in the first place. The only defense against making fear-based decisions you may live to regret is to have discussed core values ahead of time.”  Value conflicts on a team or in an organization can cause serious problem.  You lose engagement in the work being done when the employees can’t see how they fit in or can’t connect with the leader and the goals they are trying to accomplish. 

At the end of the day, an exercise in evaluating and possible re-defining your mission, vision, and values is powerful.  It opens up the team to clarity and possibility.  Nothing drives productivity and ultimately profits more than a team that is committed to the path and has been a part of developing the possibilities.  Allowing everyone to put stake in the game and seek out how to use their strengths to create a win-win opportunity creates a healthy and positive work environment.   

If you are a leader who wishes to join me in this movement to change the way we engage our employees so everyone can have meaningful work in a positive environment, reach out to me today.   We can begin this journey together by getting clear with your team and shifting the energy towards profitability!!!

 

 

Reality Check - Leading With Values

So I may have shared a time or two about my potential to be a bit of a TV junkie and that I maybe vicariously through different characters....In one blog in particular, Do You Want to Live This Way, I mentioned a moment of connection with a message from a TV show around defining who you are and how you want to live your life.  It's the moments when you have hard questions to answer about what your next move really should or could be that may change the course of your future forever.  There are three questions that I keep coming back to that we all need to ask ourselves from time to time so we can evaluate where we are, where we are going and what comes next. The thought-provoking questions were:

  • Do you know who you are?
  • Do you know what happened to you?
  • Do you want to live this way?

I want to use those questions to look at leadership and our role in engaging our employees.  As leaders these are questions that we need to be asking ourselves. Not just for own sake, but because our teams depend on us.

We have an epidemic on our hands with the workforce being disengaged. Everyone is searching for meaningful work. The disengagement isn’t just the individual contributors. It’s everyone. Leaders fall prey to the same disengagement when the workloads continue to grow, budgets get tight and resources are scarce. The reality is that the work day isn’t getting any shorter for us. People are depending on us to deliver high quality products or services so we continue to put bigger and bigger expectations on ourselves…which often is passed down to those who work for us. A reality check is called for, even if our answers to those questions are I know exactly who I am, what happened to me and that I DO want to live this way.

So you may be asking, how can I answer the three simple questions for myself? Knowing your values is the first step to solving the puzzle. Try this simple and quick exercise:

Step 1: The Reality Check

  • Write down 5 words that capture who you are (example: loving, accomplished, honest)
  • Send a text to 5 friends and ask them for 5 words that describe you
  • Write down 5 words that you believe strangers would say about you after just meeting you

Once you have all of them, do a comparison. If they’re vastly different, you are likely wearing a mask. You act differently with different people to make it through the day. That is exhausting! Wearing a mask allows you to be all things to all people but it will put you in direct conflict with all that you value. Your 5 words are the values you hold and how you want people to see you. Your friend’s words are what you show the world. And strangers….well, first impressions are everything, right?

What would it be like to always be true to who you are as a leader? To show your values and have followership because you are respected and understood? Ponder this question: Can you be all things to all people all of the time? Is it fair to expect that your teams be everything to all people all of the time?

Step 2: Self-Realization

The next step is to understand how you got there. How are you setting your vision? How are you communicating? How are you delegating? What pushes your buttons? Why does it push your buttons? What is the conflict with the values you noted?

Step 3: Choose

The final step is to consciously choose your thoughts and actions. That’s right. You always have a choice in how you lead. Reframe the situations you are faced with and find the lesson or gift that will propel you forward. It enables you to be who you want to be. And it lets you choose how you want to show up with people in all situations.

Leadership is a journey. You will take many different paths and not all of them will be what you had hoped for. The goal is to learn with every step you take and to stay true to who you are as a leader. You deserve that and so does your team and organization.

If you can relate and want to kick-start a journey to your own self-awareness as a leader, reach out to me at http://www.ndcoaching.com. Together we can explore a few options to get you started.

If you have a story that would help other leaders, I would love to hear it! No matter what the transition or where you are in it, there is so much opportunity surrounding your future.

Source: http://www.ndcoaching.com

Tomorrow I Will Lead Differently, I Promise!

man under threat of failure.jpg

Leadership can be a tricky role sometimes. Many things get in the way and stop us from leading like we know we should.

We have all kinds of daily demands and responsibilities that outweigh our personal desires and needs to spend the extra time working with our teams. We continue to tell ourselves that when things slow down we will communicate better, assign work differently, give that much needed feedback to an employee or just recognize them for a job well done. The reality is if you’re waiting for a slowdown, that time is likely to never come. It requires effort and a desire to lead more authentically.

I firmly believe that everyone knows “how” to lead. And if that is true, then only you can determine what’s stopping you from being the leader that your organization needs…that your team needs. In one of my recent blogs, No Quick Fix Here: Leadership Authenticity, you will see my initial thoughts on why I was compelled to create a leadership development program – or as I like to call it, a cultural movement. The bottom-line was that for years I watched some of the best intentioned (potentially great) leader’s burn out because they couldn’t see beyond the daily demands and responsibilities. Their workload continued to get bigger. Their faith in their team continued to get smaller. The engagement of their employees slipped away until turnover was so costly that positions just stopped being back-filled. It was a vicious cycle. That’s just one example of what happens but there are so many reasons why leaders choose to not engage in an authentic and vulnerable way with their teams. I’m here to tell you there is a strong business case behind why and how you need to show up differently.

One key piece of leadership research is by Marcus Buckingham. He is famous for his work around playing to your strengths. As a leader, you have a responsibility to your company and your employees to do this for yourself, but also to spend time with your people understanding their strengths. You should be looking for opportunities to accelerate performance and increase satisfaction in your own job and your employee’s job. Research from Buckingham’s organization proved that teams who have a chance to play to their strengths every day are:

  • 50% more likely lower employee turnover
  • 38% more likely to be high-productivity teams
  • 44% more likely to earn high customer satisfaction scores

What do you think an improvement like this can do to the bottom-line of profitability? Marcus has many books out there that share all of the research but you will find the magic behind these numbers in his book “First, Go Break All the Rules.” You can purchase it at the New Dimensions Book Store. It is important for organizations to begin investing in the development of their people leaders. It’s also important for people leaders to want to dig deep and grow.

Baby steps are the key right now to the plague of the Gallup data which shows that 70% of employees are disengaged at work. Leadership is cited as one of the key reasons why people leave an organization.  We must begin to take a deep introspective look at ourselves as leaders to put just a dent in that number.

Here are a few steps you can begin working on today:

  1. Get Clear – know what you stand you for – your mission, vision and values and how does that align with your organization. Is your team aware of your vision and values? What are your strengths and how do you play to them? What is the strength of each individual on your team? How can you use that information to assign work?
  2. Let Go – let go of things that stop you from leading from your mission, vision and values. Sometimes letting go isn’t about leaving something behind as much as it is about changing your perception and actions. Start noticing your behavior– If you find yourself moving away from something happening in your day, ask yourself what you’re really doing. Are you in some form of risk….and going silent or violent? Take note of your feelings – Learn to accurately name the emotion behind your story. What emotions are encouraging you to act this way? Offer other options for your stories – Question your conclusions and look for other possible explanations behind your story. What story is creating these emotions?

Imagine how differently you will interact with people once you are conscious of your intent and can give yourself options for the intent of others. Knowing who you are and how you lead can bring you to a place of greater productivity…and well, fun! Do you remember what it was like to have fun at work?

If you’re interested in understanding your energy and how it impacts the way you lead your team…if you’re interested in having fun at work again, connect with me today!

My practice has so many wonderful development opportunities for you to grow as a leader and grow as a team!

Let’s build this cultural movement together!

No Quick Fix Here: Authentic Leadership

Authentic Leadership

As I sit here on the sand of the Outer Banks soaking in the sun and listening to the wave’s crash, I feel this overwhelming need to discuss self-awareness.  I know what you’re thinking….and you’re right, I am doing some serious soul searching and meditation.  You see the reason that I am on this lovely beach is because I needed to get my creative juices flowing for my up and coming leadership development program called Leadership Foresight

The workaholic side of me planned this trip to get some serious “stuff” done.  As I prepared for this trip, I was in anxiety mode…I had so much that I wanted to get done in a small window of time.  I was determined to work, work, work and just crank it all out.  I carefully selected books to bring with me for research and articles that might spur a reaction in me.

My husband actually had to say to me, please take some time for you.  The notion of playing while on this trip just did not occur to me.  I was on a mission, but sitting here still on the beach and being alone with my thoughts is taking me to a place that I actually didn’t expect, but it is everything I could have hoped for….a clear mind and heart with no judgment or sense of urgency to make something more meaningful happen. 

I am what I like to call a recovering perfectionist.   What I was forgetting is that creative juices don’t really flow when you put that kind of pressure on yourself, especially when you are at the beach!  When I arrived, I quickly realized that I needed to give myself permission to just have fun and relax.  Let things come to me as it would and not force something. 

This trip was all about clearing my head and really focusing on creating something meaningful.  I wanted impact for the leaders who are going to be my audience but I found it for myself too.  My specialty is in leadership development so as I sit here thinking about changing my own perspective about this trip, I am pondering what could change a leader’s perspective on what it means to be present and share the best of their gifts and talent with the people who follow them.  What would it take to help them move more effortlessly through the challenges, anxiety and pressure that corporate life can bring.  I finally realized.  It is exactly what I am experiencing right now.  It’s time to reflect on who they are, what they want, how they want to show up in the world and what legacy they want to leave behind. 

The sad reality is, everywhere you look studies show less than desirable facts about the engagement levels of employees in Corporate America.   A Gallup study, State of the American Workplace, indicated the following:

  •  "Of the approximately 100 million people in America who hold a full-time job, 30 million (30%) are engaged and inspired at work, so we can assume they have a great boss.
  • At the other end of the spectrum are roughly 20 million (20%) employees who are actively disengaged.  These employees, who have bosses from hell that make them miserable, roam the halls spreading discontent.
  • The other 50 million (50%) American workers are not engaged.  They’re just kinda present, but not inspired by their work or their manager."

You might say the majority of the world is working to live.  I am now on a mission to try to impact that notion and really dig in to help leaders groom a culture where people live to work, an environment where people get up every morning and work because they feel valued and can contribute to the bottom line.  You should check out the Gallup study to see more of the detail.  It is amazing how much money it costs an organization to have employees who are not engaged or actively disengaged.  Beyond that, it is amazing how much an organization will spend to train leaders to mitigate those numbers, yet it doesn't seem to be having the intended return on investment.

So how do I (WE) impact the engagement of our employees?  In my coaching practice one of the golden rules of my methodology is learning with authenticity.  What does that really mean?  Well, let me give you my definition.  I believe authenticity is actively seeking out knowledge about who you are…the good, bad and the ugly.  You have to own the fact that your thoughts, actions and beliefs are a compilation of every experience you've ever had.  Old leadership models and beliefs would tell you that you leave your personal life at home.  You don’t show emotion in the workplace because that is a sign of weakness. 

I wholeheartedly believe that if you try to compartmentalize who you are then you not only bring about stress and anxiety for yourself; you also confuse your team.  They see you not as you truly are, but as the mask that you wear.  This could equate to a lack of trust because it’s difficult to make a connection when you are “faking it”….thus leading to a huge hit on your credibility.  As a leader, people need to know you and you absolutely need to know them.  They need to understand who you are so they know what to expect.  Authentic leadership is taking the time to understand who you are and taking action with courage to bring others with you; being vulnerable.  If you are intentional about your vision or your message, good or bad, then people are more likely to follow you because they respect you.   They respect you because they FEEL respected.

If you’re freaking out right now, don’t worry.  I freaked out too when I decided to move away from the notion that you could become a GREAT leader in a 2-day training program.  What I also know is everyone loves a magic pill or a “how to” guide.  And why not….it’s simple and easy, right?  You just follow the instruction and check the boxes…and wham you’re good to go!  Well, not so much. 

Authentic leadership is hard.  It’s requires true effort and self-examination, but the payoff is so worth it.  It can change your life and the lives of those around you.  In today’s world there are so many cut-throat cultures.  It makes it hard to survive, let alone thrive.  Brene Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection, puts authenticity into perspective better than anyone I have researched thus far.  She says,

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.

 Authenticity means

  • Cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable;
  • Exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and
  • Nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough.”

If as leaders, we could dig deep and understand that authentic leadership is a process and journey that actively requires effort then we could build the most amazing and productive teams.  I believe that we know “how” to lead.  Most leadership books and training program out there take you to the same place when it comes to the “how” of leadership.  It's cute to think that I could give you five easy steps and you would miraculously BE a great leader. If it were that easy, we would all be doing it.

So what’s going on?  Knowing how to be a great leader is one thing.  Authentically and intently putting things into practice is another.  Instead of purely focusing on what we need to do, maybe we should focus what's stopping us from doing the things we already know would engage and motivate our employees.

As we continue to take this journey together, my new leadership development program, Leadership Foresight, will be speaking directly to my signature model of Learning with Authenticity – Acting with Courage –Sharing with Intent.  It focuses on both the “how” component of leadership, but more importantly the “what’s holding you back” side.  It is an intense journey down the path to self-awareness so you can be the authentic leader your team is counting on. 

I challenge you now to make a conscious choice on how you want to “show up.” It's a choice we make every day. Together we can create a productive, healthy and fun workplace built on a strong foundation followership.  Help yourself and your teams thrive, not survive.

If you’re interested in my new program, Leadership Foresightcontact me today.  I am so excited about launching the first phase in August!!!

Also, if you’re interested in the work of Brene Brown cited earlier, you can pick up a copy from the New Dimensions Coaching Bookstore today.  I have to warn you though; it is nothing short of life changing.

Until next time, stay authentic, my friend!

Defining Leadership – A Tribute to the Music of the 80’s

music business man.jpg

For the next ten minutes, I want to just give you a few little thought-provoking analogies about leadership styles in the terms of music from the 80’s.  I definitely have lyrics on the brain right now so let’s just say I’m going for the reaction of “things that make you go hmmm!”

Music has always been a huge focal point of my life…I can instantly change my mood with a song.  It can take me to new heights in life or support whatever feeling I need to process in the moment.  For example, if you looked at my IPod you would see almost every genre from the 60’s to the present.  When I’m working out, I have a playlist full of loud rock music that pushes me forward.  When I am mourning something, I might listen to my Christian music or love songs.  When I am happy, you will find all kinds of music from Aretha Franklin to Miley Cyrus (yes, I just admitted that to the world).  I can turn on the radio and a song comes on that instantly reminds me of some moment in time.  The point is, I use music to slip away to another reality.   If this resonates with you, you are really going to enjoy this blog!

For me, the 1980’s brings back fond memories and offers some of the best music.  This decade produced some truly talented musicians that can paint a picture like no other and tell a beautiful story.  I was listening to Pandora the other day and Tears for Fears came on the radio….and I before I knew it, I began singing “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”  While this may seem a bit odd (the singing of that song and the thought process that came soon after), I had been working with a group of employees who were having difficulty with a leader.  It made me wonder, how many songs can I find that truly define the essence of a leader.  This particular Tears for Fears song reminded me of a leader you may know as a Command/Control type.  The one that micro-manages, challenges everything, hovers and likely gives less than constructive feedback on your deliverable.  Have you ever worked for this kind of leader?  Um, yeah me too.  It’s a painful experience but have no fear there are so many great leaders out there!  Even more right there on the cusp of being a force to be followed. 

This whole experience sent me to the internet to explore other 80’s songs that may resonate.  The ones that when I hear it, I instantly think about a leader who should use that as their theme song.  In my 15 years of supporting, developing and working with leaders, I found that behaviors are situational but there is an overarching natural style that defines the leader. 

Let’s explore leadership styles that you may wish to follow, learn from or, lastly, stay away from in your career.  Now if you are the leader, you can determine which leader you are or, better yet, which one you want to be.

Are you ready to start our musical journey?  Take a look at the descriptors; sing along in your head if the mood strikes you….

First let’s begin with my personal favorite, the leader to be or follow:

“The Authentic Leader” –This leader is a craftsman.  They care about the task at hand, but also about the people that need to make it happen.  Engagement is a focal point of their style.  They are flexible, a good team builder and actively listen to those around them.  They measure success by balancing the values of their employees and the results necessary to accomplish a goal.  They personally drive for achievement, trust, teamwork and integrity.  They can literally bring up the energy in a room just by being present!  The song that plays in my mind for this type of leader is by Information Society - What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy).

I wanna know
What you're thinking
There are some things you can't hide...
I wanna know
What you're feeling
Tell me what's on your mind.

Next, we explore the leader to learn something from.  As a side note, this is a leader on the edge of greatness.  With a little bit of development, they can reach the authentic leader status because they naturally hold a lot of the characteristics.

“The Mentor/Guardian Leader”   This leader goes to great lengths to be transparent and gain followership. They are an effective listener, easy going, stress harmony and are dependable.  Small talk is welcomed and understanding quality of work life for everyone is important.  They want to know all about you so they can help you develop and grow. The downside of this type of leader is they may delay making tough calls because of their loyalty to their team vs. accomplishing the goal.  Any Bryan Adams fans out there?  Their messaging to the team sounds like Straight From the Heart.

Give it to me straight from the heart
Tell me we can make another start
You know I'll never go - as long as I know
It's comin' straight from the heart

“The Zen /Charismatic Leader” This leader makes the team feel like everything is going to be okay at all times.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a wooer.  They’re the one who says don’t worry; just take it day by day.  Having this type of calm in the midst of a storm is a wonderful feeling, BUT the drawback here can be that when times are tough, they may not truly have your back.  They are likely to avoid conflict at all costs.  They prefer harmony to dealing with the issue at hand.  Being able to rally the troops is a great skill-set but there has to be support when the rubber hits the road.  The song of a Zen leader is the good old Bobby McFerrin song – Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

Here's a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don't worry, be happy.
In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it double
Don't worry, be happy.
Don't worry, be happy now.

And finally, the leaders you never want to be or work for:

“The Egomaniac Leader” This is a lot like the Command and Control leader, but it goes beyond trust and delegation issues.  It truly gets to the heart of “I know more than you” or “I am smarter than you.”  I like to compare this leader to the Godfather.  They expects loyalty at any cost.  They are authoritative and create dependencies on themselves.  They tend to be solo decision makers as the “the buck stops here.”  They are good in a crisis because they focus on getting things done at any cost.  They are poor listeners.  They believe in a hierarchical respect regardless of the behavior exhibited.  Eventually they burn out their team or cause disengagement.  And why not, right?  In the end, they validate their original thought process "I am truly smarter and better than you!" This leadership style sounds a lot like the good old song from the Charlie Daniels Band - Devil Went Down to Georgia.

Now, you play pretty good fiddle, boy,
but give the devil his due.
I'll bet a fiddle of gold against your soul,
'cause I think I'm better than you.

“The Toxic Narcissistic Leader” - Yes, you know this leader.  It is a combination of the command/control leader and the egomaniac leader.   It’s the one that does not care whether you are human or a robot.  Their turnover numbers are astronomical.  The only concern is whether or not the job is getting done.  Oh! And that they look good, giving very little credit to the actual worker bees.  The feeling this leader exudes to a team is a sense of urgency around every issue.  They tend to drive a lot of drama into their team environment.  They are aggressive, negative, and have an intense need for control.  They challenge everything and everyone.  Because this leader is all about themselves and they don’t really care about the people, the song that best describes them is by the famous Queen – Another One Bites the Dust.

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey, I'm gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust

I just couldn’t stop there on this one.  I think another song that describes how this leader makes YOU feel is a classic by Michael Jackson – Beat It.

They're out to get you, better leave while you can
Don't wanna be a boy, you wanna be a man
You wanna stay alive, better do what you can
So beat it, just beat it

“The Rogue Leader” – This is a leadership trait to watch out for in your career.  They are the salesman.  Skillful, bright communicators who are politically savvy but play by their own rules.  They are competitive which often drives them towards their own agenda vs what is in the best interest of the company.  Why?  Because clearly they already know what is in the best interest of the company so they are going to do their own thing until everyone catches up with them and their brilliance!!!  Because culture eats strategy for breakfast, this type of leader doesn’t usually last long.  Selling in ideas, being able to gain support and attracting followership is the key to a successful leader so the house of cards typically will crumble on this type of leader.  A perfect song to describe this leader is by the ultimate rock band of the 80’s Whitesnake – Here I Go Again.

Here I go again on my own
goin' down the only road I've ever known.
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
'cos I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams.

What songs came to your head?  I’m sure there are a lot more out there, but these resonated for me.  I’ve worked with, supported and been many of these leaders over my career.  I tended to float between the mentor and authentic, but I’m not fooling myself.  There was always a little bit of the rogue leader in me.  I wanted try new things and sometimes the company wasn’t willing to go there with me.  I sold in ideas and watched them get just enough support to feed my drive, but sometimes it wasn’t enough to get full buy-in so my strategies and goals would fail.  I blogged a while back about the Art of the F Word where epic failures are a must so you can learn and grow.  So while I went there from time to time, I definitely grew over my 15 years of leadership. 

If you are a leader who is on the edge of being that authentic leader, but just need a little bit of guidance to get you to the next level, I encourage you to think about these types of leaders.  Seek out support to define the leader you want to be, put a plan of action around it and begin sharing the best of you with your team.  It can be an exciting ride finding your PURE ENERGY and personal zone of authentic leadership.    

Contact me today if you want to explore your leadership style!!  

The Art of the "F" Word

Making Failure A Must

Making Failure A Must

How do you define failure?  Failure, to me, is a must.  What would it feel like if it wasn’t an option but a must for you to reach your own destiny?   It feels like freedom to me. 

You may be thinking that sounds crazy.  We spend most of our lives trying to avoid failure at all costs.  I’m challenging you to re-think your perspective.  Over the years, I learned many painful lessons that brought me to where I am today.  If you just shift your view of what it means to fail, then you just may see it as a must too.  This is how I define the art of  the F word:

 

F – Focused:  Define what you want and how you plan to get there.

A – Adaptable: Change is never ending, set a vision and then be flexible enough to evolve it.

I -    Ideation:  Challenge your own beliefs and poke holes in your own concepts.

L -   Laughter:  Do not take yourself so seriously. Innovation begins with having a little fun.

U-   Unconventional:  Stand out from the crowd.  Be creative and try the path less traveled.

R-    Real:  Always be authentic. Bring your most passionate and creative self to the surface.

E-    Elevated:  Rise above your own ego.  Our ego’s keep us safe and fearful of the unknown.

In my career, I was always somewhat of a maverick (or so I’ve been told).  I was a transparent leader who led by my convictions, values and heart.  My leadership team loved my adaptability.  In fact, it was my blessing and my curse.  They appreciated how I took a challenge and figured out how to make the puzzle pieces fit to solve the issue.  They used to comment that they never worried unless I told them there was something to worry about.  It was because I always stayed so cool and calm with plenty of thoughts around what to do next. 

So you may be asking, what is the curse?  Well, that same drive to solve challenges at any cost was also one of my epic failures.  Because I was so adaptable, I received all of the horrible assignments to solve.  My career path slowly but surely became at the discretion of my leadership.  I added value and obtained praise for my work, but I wasn’t doing what I loved to do.  I eventually came to resent it.  I fixed the problem, but at my own detriment.  Praise and acknowledgement was no longer enough to sustain my engagement. 

This played itself out in a very bad way in one career move.  I had landed the career of my dreams, or so I thought.  Within 11 months of being in the role, my responsibilities were restructured three times.  I ultimately ended up with a job that I would NEVER have signed up to do.  How could this happen?  I was new to this company.  At least at my other companies, I had years of longevity that allowed my leadership team to pick me up and drop me into new roles to let me take on new challenges.  

I started looking inward and reflecting to identify the moment that it all started happening.  What I realized is that it always happened in every company that I’ve worked for just never to this extent and never this fast.  My curse was being "the fixer."  Because I weighed in on situations to offer suggestions, and did not appear overwhelmed with the challenge, I was the one blessed with making it all work.

It was in that moment, I realized the truth; I had a choice.  I didn’t have to follow a path that others chose for me.  I didn’t have to say yes.  I was likely to never stop offering suggestions to help so I needed to figure out how to play to my strengths on my terms.  The choice was mine to make.  I made a decision to leave my job and start my own business.  It was a huge moment of fear for me, but also a freeing one.  I had all kinds of inner conflict popping up.  Would I be able to make enough money to support my family?  Would I be as successful out on my own?  Would I….fail.  But, my desire to help others as a career and leadership coach filled my spirit with opportunity and possibility.  It all ties back to what I said in the beginning.  In order for me to pursue my passion and live out my own destiny, I had to fail and not be afraid of more failure.  I had to FAIL to push me to take steps that I likely never would have taken.

In an earlier blog, I discussed the question of “do you really want to live like that?”  It’s an important question for us to decide in our careers.  If you don’t have a passion around what you are doing in life, then you have to feel like its ground hog day…you do the same thing every day, and get the same results.  And yet, you may still be confused about why.  Failure has allowed me to keep my ego in check and learn what I am truly made of so I could follow my dreams.  I wouldn’t change a moment of my epic failures.

What are you tolerating in your life?  What failures ultimately enabled you to see your true opportunities?  Have you mastered the Art of the F word? 

Playing the Career Game - Vegas-Style

Royal Flush

My most memorable vacations are always in Las Vegas.  I love the shimmering lights, people-watching, the fancy casinos, the different nightly attractions like the waterfall of raging fire.  But, let’s get serious.  I LOVE the thrill of sitting down at the table to play a little poker. 

Playing poker can ignite all of my senses.  I always travel to Vegas with a positive attitude telling myself that I will win some and lose some.  As soon as I step up to a table that Kenny Roger’s song pops into my head….”you’ve got to know when to holdem’, know when to foldem’, know when to walk away, know when to run…”  Sorry, I digressed.

Poker is about the excitement of winning a hand, even if it’s only for a dollar.  It’s the anticipation of what card is coming next.  It’s the optimism when a hand is fully dealt.  It’s also that moment when I’m in the groove and winning!  And then there are the dreaded times when I toss in the cards.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how our careers are a gamble too.  I can see the connection between playing that game of poker in Vegas and playing the career game.  You may be sitting in your current job thinking to yourself there has to be more or there has to be something better out there.  If you’ve read my other blogs you’ll notice a theme around the saying “the only thing that is constant in our life is change.”  Because of this, I want to share my perspective on four different career phases in Vegas-style terms.

tossingin.jpg

Shuffling

Dealing

Playing the Hand 

Tossing In

 

 

I will share more about each in a minute. There are many different reasons why you end up in one of these phases.  Lots of uncontrollable events occur in our lives.  In today’s environment, companies are constantly in transformation. They are changing faster than anything I have seen in my 20 years of Corporate America.

You might be experiencing a company downsize, restructure or an explosion of growth. On a more personal note, you may also just be in a company culture that isn’t in alignment with your personal values.  Regardless of what’s happening in the organization, what I do know is that in order for companies to grow they must grow and develop their people.  Maybe you don’t feel like that’s happening for you.  Or you could be one of those not so lucky people who simply have an under-developed leader….do you like how I say that?  Okay put another way, maybe you have really BAD boss that resembles a succubus and is waiting for any opportunity to devour you instead of develop you.  Is that better?  The good news is you have the power to choose how you handle your own career destiny.  You get to make a choice – and that choice is 100% yours. 

I think I just heard a few sighs!  Seriously, there is never a situation that doesn’t have a gift or something positive to take away.  I’ve been right where you are!  I’ve been in some pretty toxic cultures, companies undergoing restructure and growth at the same time, companies that are downsizing, and certainly with an under-developed leadership staff.  I would like for you to open your mind to the possibilities and embrace whatever situation you’re going through.  You can seize the amazing opportunities that lay before you in your career journey. 

Let’s explore each of the four stages a little more in-depth so you can start identifying where you are in the cycle of your career.

We will start with the end in mind and then work our way through the phases.  Tossing in is the phase where things are not working for us in our career and we simply say I’m not doing this or not doing it this way anymore.  For example, have you ever heard the saying people don’t leave companies, they leave bad bosses?  I had a client who was constantly feeling under-valued and over-worked.  She worked for a leader who felt the only time feedback was necessary was when something went off track.  The feedback did not even seem to be for my client.  It was really more of a way for the leader to put my client in her place.  Sounds like that succubus from earlier, right??  After enduring years of this behavior, she finally tossed in.  She shared with her boss that she could no longer work under the conditions of the last year.  She stated that if they could try a different way of communicating then maybe she could stay. If not, it was time for her to seek out new opportunities. 

See tossing in isn’t about just moving on to something new.  It’s about re-negotiating, if possible.  One important thing to note in this phase is it isn’t always your choice to toss in…maybe you’ve been tossed on.  When that happens sometimes your inner voice keeps you in a place of resentment. You feel like a victim of the circumstance.  Remember, life is about choices and you still have a choice.  The choice is to move on and find the gift or stay in that victim mentality, hibernating away from the world.  In this situation, my client ultimately decided to no longer tolerate the boss and moved into the shuffling phase. 

Shuffling is a time in your career when you take a time-out from whatever is happening to reflect on where you’ve been, are and may want to head in the future.  In this phase you know that something is just not working for you.  It can bring about a lot of fear of the unknown.  You are just unsure of the direction you should head.  You start to test the waters with your network group to see what value you hold in the marketplace.  You may be in a passive job search fielding calls from headhunters or recruiters to see what’s out there and might be a good next step. Or, you may look for a new stretch assignment that will reignite your passion.  Many times in this phase you feel a loss of control, but you still feel like there is opportunity ahead of you. You will do A LOT of inner-directed exercises aimed at figuring out passions and what to do in life.  You may also have a lot of different emotions that need to be sorted out to bring about a new sense of enthusiasm.

Once you’re done shuffling, it’s time to deal baby!!  In this phase, there is a ton of optimism because you are taking action.  You have your cards in front of you.  You experiment with heavier networking or attend some new kind of training to build a new skill or enhance an existing one.  You have all of the confidence in the world because you’re ready to stretch to new heights.  You put things in order to make something happen.  Your job search may become active.  Maybe you decide to ask your boss for a new project.  Shuffling was all about figuring things out internally, now in the dealing phase you focus outward so you can take action.  You are eager to show your hand and start winning.

Now that you see the hand you have to work with, you begin playing the game.  I like to call this phase “in the groove.”  Maybe you found your dream job and are fully in the moment reaching new levels of success.  Or it could be that you were able to re-negotiate whatever was holding you back in your current role so you feel optimistic and determined to prove yourself.  This phase is the ultimate place to be in your career.  It’s that moment when you look at your poker hand and see a royal flush.  You know that nothing can stop you.

Where are you in the phases?  Sometimes in our careers we have to make scary and hard decisions.  You have to trust your intuition and just make a choice about what you want for your future.  And you need to say it out loud so you can move forward to the next phase. You may fluctuate in between these phases frequently.  I know that I have in my own career from time to time. 

Just focus your energy on playing the game to the best of your ability.  Trust your skills and have confidence that no matter what challenges arise, you will come through it.  As scary as tossing in may be, know that it is an option.  It’s never one to take lightly but a holistic view of your situation helps you make a better decision.  AND, you never know what opportunities await around the corner for you. 

I have clients who thought that losing their job would devastate their life, but ultimately they ended up starting a new business or finding a much better fit for them in their next role.  It’s all about your perspective.  I pride myself in helping my clients move through their phases to exactly where they want to be.  Just know that you are not alone in your career journey.  There are resources available to you that can help guide you through it all.

Good luck in your career journey and play the game well, my friend!!! 

Leavin’ on a Jet Plane: The Career Traveler

Perspectives Gained at the Airport

Perspectives Gained at the Airport

As a former road warrior (and former airline employee), I spent a lot of time people-watching while waiting at the airport.  With plenty of time on my hands, my creative juices started to flow.  It allowed me to draw out different scenarios that connect life and people moving through the airport.  One big connection was around how we make decisions.  It’s amazing how much you really can learn spending just a few hours sitting at the gate!!

During my last trip on blizzard-like day in Ohio, I sat in amazement as I watched people in all different emotional states during their journey.

You can imagine what I mean when the word blizzard and airport merged together.  It was this beautiful disaster.  It prompted me to examine my own emotional state during my career journey over the years.  I’ve drawn correlations between the 3 main types of travelers at the airport to how people manage through their career travel (or journey).  Below are my top three kinds of career travelers. Take some time to think about which one best represents you as you move through your career.

The Career Travelers:

  • The Runner: The person who runs over every person they come in contact with just to get to their destination. You may know someone who operates at this level in their career.  Using this type of behavior to progress in a career is typically associated with a level of fear that drains everyone of energy around them.  It may actually present itself as confidence or arrogance, but it is simply a mask of insecurity.  They’re afraid of failure, afraid they might lose out on something so they manipulate and undermine people to get what they want.  They constantly seek the lime-light at any cost to those around them.  The main thought in their head is all about “what’s in it for me.” 
  • The Disoriented:  The person who is in a state of confusion.  They’re lost, overwhelmed and not sure where to go or who to ask.  They operate at a level of fear that leaves them feeling like the victim.  Everyone is doing something to them that prevents them from getting where they want to be and achieving their goals. They spend a tremendous amount of time waiting for someone else to plan their career and give them what they believe they are entitled to in life. The main thought in their head is “poor me.”
  • The On Course:  The person who is right where they need to be and has plenty of time to find their final destination. They are confident and self-aware.  They know that only they can truly be responsible for their own career path and understand that progression is a journey.  Each step comes with lessons to learn and gifts to take away from every role (good or bad) and they accept it.  They seek out their own development plan to elevate them to the career of their dreams. The main thought in their head is “the world is full of possibility and potential.”

The important thing to remember is none of the emotional states are right or wrong.  It’s simply someone on their own journey to self-awareness.  How you view the world at any given moment can cause different types of behavior, but as a wise coach once told me….”how you show up for anything, is how you show up for everything.”  You have a choice every single day to be who you want to be and make different choices.  I challenge you to examine the three types of career travelers and decide who you want to be.  If you’re not showing up like you want to, change it.

Let me give you a personal glimpse into my own path.  What I realized throughout my own career is that I’ve been every one of the career travelers at some stage of the game.   When I left college, I was “The Disoriented” career traveler.  I didn’t have a career plan. I wasn’t even really sure what I wanted to do with my life.  I worked in jobs long enough to just understand that I “didn’t” want to do that…sound familiar?  At one company, I literally submitted a job application for every job that came out on the job board.  I would tell myself there was something about that job that I was qualified to do….and let’s be honest, I was qualified for maybe 1 of every 30 jobs I submitted my name for on a really good day.

In my late-20’s, I took control of my destiny…or maybe it took control of me.  I was blessed with finding a mentor.  She sat me down and really made me focus on activities I loved to do and helped me put a plan together to find that dream career path.  She prepped me for interviews and supported me with words of affirmation.  15 years later, I’m still in that same career field and feel lucky that I found my passion.  Of course, the jobs themselves evolved over time, but the career field itself remained solid for me.  I became “The On Course” career traveler. 

 An important thing to note about “The On Course” traveler is that being right where you are supposed to be does not mean things are perfect in the job itself.  Your perspective about the job is what makes you on-course.  Even if the role is a terrible fit, you get decide what the gift is that you were supposed to take away.  For example, I have been in some hostile work environments.  The job itself was a perfect fit but the leadership around me was less than desirable. I had to take very emotional moments and find the gift.  For me, it was usually the type of leadership behavior that I never wanted to exhibit.  Or, helping those around me who were stuck in “The Disoriented” traveler mode find self-value so they could move on.  There is always a lesson or gift…and a choice.   

I never wanted to be “The Runner” in my career travels.  There were many moments where my values were challenged.  When that happened, I made choices.  For example, during one of my career adventures, I ran up against “The Runner”.  He was my peer and always fighting for the lime-light.  We liked to joke that we were arch nemesis, but the reality was we weren’t joking.  It became a game to see who could outshine the other person.  Now, the organization was probably just fine with it.  We went above and beyond and delivered more than our fair share of the work, but at the end of the day it was at the expense of each other.  We weren’t looking for ways to partner or collaborate for the greater good. We were fighting for the promotion; each of us with some sense of fear around our own capability. We played that game for 2 years.  It was exhausting.  One day, I finally made a choice to stop the madness.  I knew I was capable and talented.  I didn’t need to compare myself to anyone.  I was my only competition.  As soon as I came to that realization, I was promoted into a role.  I was so blinded by competition that I didn't even know the role existed.  Again, destiny was calling to me.

Change is the only constant we have in life. I challenge you to become more self-aware.  Think about what kind of career traveler you are and make a conscious choice about who you want to be.  If you aren’t aware of who you are, then you can’t make solid decisions that propel you forward.   Your career is a huge part of your life; whether you are working to live or living to work.  Think about the three career travelers and decide…are you engaging in your career from a place of fear or love?  Are you truly self-aware and confident in your abilities, so much so, that you believe you are your only competition?  That’s where success begins. 

Share a story about your career travels.  You might find that you are a different kind of career traveler or hybrid of what I shared.  I would love to hear from you!!

How to Make Better Decisions

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Do you agonize over making the right decision until you are sick with worry? Do you stress about not knowing which decision is truly best for you and your family? Do you constantly worry you will make the wrong decision without even knowing it and some how hurt your future in the process?

The truth is, worrying about your decisions isn’t making you a better decision maker. It is making you a better worrier! If you want to make better decisions, the first thing you have to do is identify your natural decision-making style. This will enable you to see why you make the choices you do and what you need to do to make better ones.

Get started by asking yourself these three questions:

  1. Do I make lists, gather facts and analyze every component of the issue until I am comfortable making a decision? If so, you are a logical decision maker.
  2. Do I process all of my emotions first and then make a decision based on how I feel? If so, you are an emotional decision maker.
  3. Do I get a gut feeling about the situation and make my decision based on what my gut says? If so, you are an intuitive decision maker.

We all naturally fall into one of those main decision-making styles. The key to making better decisions is to look at each situation from ALL angles -- from a logical, intuitive and emotional point of view. This is called taking the “holistic” view of the situation.

There is no right or wrong way of making decisions but if you could choose to look at the opportunity holistically using all three perspectives, you will find that you are much clearer on how to handle everything that comes your way. 

Pay attention to what comes into your mind first "I think," "I feel," or "my gut tells me…".  In every situation, you can gain a clear vision of what something really is and see the bigger picture.

Are you ready to give it a try?

Follow these two steps when faced with a decision:

  1. Take a moment to breathe. Get yourself centered and in a frame of mind that says “I can tackle anything!”
  2. As you begin to think about the situation, ask yourself these three questions.
    • How do I “feel” about this decision?
    • What does my “gut” tell me to do?
    • "Logically,” what is the first thing I would do?

By simply taking a little extra time to think things through on ALL different levels, you will empower yourself to make better decisions and you will feel more confident in the decisions you make.

It seems overly simple, right?  That's because it is!!!  It doesn't take much to begin to see things differently so happy decision-making!!!!  Let me know how it's changed your perspective on the world around you!!

IT’S ABOUT THE JOURNEY

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When we set a goal, we often become so focused on the outcome that we lose sight of what is actually important: the journey.

Life is about living in the moment, but when we are preoccupied with winning versus losing, and completely focused on simply crossing the finish-line of achieving our goals, it is easy to forget that. Today’s blog is about how to detach from the outcome of any given situation -- even when it is something you really want  -- so you can enjoy the journey of life. Every experience is gift.  Finding that gift in the moment is the key to unlocking it all.  Let me share a personal story.

My daughter is a prime example of being in the moment and soaking in the experience.  When  she was in sixth grade, she wanted nothing more than to be a cheerleader for her school. She had practiced tumble since she was three and had been on the county summer cheer league, but this was the first year she was eligible to compete for a spot on her school’s team.

As her mother, I was beyond excited for her. And, I was 100 percent certain she was going to make the team. After all, she is super cute, a good gymnast and a good cheerleader. She had it in the bag!

As the day of the tryouts approached, we practiced positive thoughts and rehearsed her routine constantly. When the big day came, I kissed her on the forehead and said, “No matter what, I’m so proud of you for trying out. It takes courage to get up there and most girls don’t have that courage, so you’re already amazing. It’s not about winning a spot on the team, it’s about the fact that you faced a fear and went after a goal!”

Now, I would like to say that I meant what I said, but really, I knew she would make it and it just seemed like the right thing to say to feed her confidence. After the tryouts she ran to me crying, full of nerves and just glad the whole ordeal was over. At midnight, while she was fast asleep, I pulled up the tryout results and my daughter’s number wasn’t there.

I remember reading the list over and over again, hoping my eyes were deceiving me. But they were not. Her number just was not there. I started to cry - yes, me. The one who had told my child it did not matter if she made it or not.

I wasn’t crying because she didn’t make the team. I was hurting for her because she wanted it so desperately and I didn’t want to crush her hopes and dreams. I needed to put on a brave face and remember what I told her that morning: It’s not about the outcome. It’s about being in the moment, and feeling successful because you went after your dreams.

The next morning, I went into her room and asked her to come downstairs with me. We sat in our favorite chair and I shared the news. I saw the tears welling up in her eyes. We spent ten minutes crying together while I told her how proud I was of her. She then asked to see the results and immediately began texting her friends to congratulate them on making the team. I was simply amazed. What a brave soul. She then proceeded to tell me she was happy that she tried and would practice some more and try out again next year.

She understood what I meant by living in the moment and being proud of what she had accomplished, even if the outcome was not what she had hoped for. She also understood what it meant to not give up on her dreams. She had a plan and was ready to start putting it into action for the next opportunity.

The moral of the story? Your perspective on life and the things that happen to you is all that you have. Reframe your mind and set goals with the intent of truly experiencing and feeling each moment, versus putting your value in the outcome. I promise, you will experience life in a far more positive and joy-filled way. Just ask my daughter!

Want to share your story?  When you look back over your career or moments in your life, when did you live in the moment?

How to Impact the World: “The Ripple Effect”

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 “The Ripple Effect” refers to one event causing a series of other events to happen. It shows up in many ways in all of our lives, but very few of us actually harness its power to impact the world, create more goodness and increase our own self-esteem in the process. Fortunately, even the smallest act can cause a powerful ripple effect, so it doesn’t take much time or energy to effect a big change.

So if you’ve followed my recent blogs, I like to use my daughter for an example when it impacts me in a big way.  In this case, one simple act of kindness from my daughter and one of her friends caused a ripple effect that continues to keep giving.  Recently she participated in an anti-bullying class for sixth graders. She was so moved by the information she received that she decided to pay it forward. She came to me with a plan to create self-esteem cards for all eighty of the girls in her sixth grade class, because she wanted to impact other girls in the same way she was impacted by the anti-bullying message.

Ever since she handed out her self-esteem cards, I have had mothers calling me, thanking me for helping my daughter do something nice for their daughters. It feels great, but I have to tell them that it was all my daughter; I simply funded her idea. But, I love thinking of how their daughters will carry this self-esteem and anti-bullying lesson with them and might even generously give another girl a boost of confidence in the future, just when she needs it most.

That is just one example of “The Ripple Effect” at work and it is from an eleven-year-old. If she can do one small thing to impact eighty people in a matter of days, imagine what you can do.

I found that over the last 15 years of career development and career coaching, I’ve been able to pay it forward many times over.  I’ve had great mentors, friends, and coaches that helped me become the person I am today and live out my dream.  In the moments you least expect it, you will get a thank you note or email sharing the impact you made.  You may not even remember it, but to someone you were exactly what they needed in that moment.

“The Ripple Effect” is about changing someone’s life, one person at a time, so begin by asking yourself this question: Who will I impact today, and how? 

Please share you “Ripple Effect” story with us today!!