Celebrating with Gratitude

I am celebrating the fifth anniversary of founding my executive coaching and team development practice. The time has really flown by because I love what I do. I have had the privilege of working with and learning from amazing clients. It has been incredibly rewarding to hear clients say, “My colleagues and my family can tell I have been working hard to improve.” That means they are getting it — and applying it in all aspects of their lives.

In the process of completing my certification in Organizational Dynamics, I was reminded of the importance of recognizing people who have had an impact on my career. Thank you to those who encouraged and supported me, those who challenged me, and those who tried to hold me back. I wouldn’t be here without all of you.

Have you acknowledged the people who have helped you along the way? It’s never too late …

 

The Mask

Do you ever feel like you have to put on a mask when you get to work?

As you move up in an organization, it can be challenging to adjust your behavior without losing yourself.  Leaders are expected to fit in with their peers while demonstrating the ability to offer differing opinions.  Here are some suggestions for achieving this delicate balance:

  • Know your blind spots:  be aware of the things that may derail your effectiveness and learn how to manage them.
  • Choose your battles:  voice your opinion when it really counts rather than disagreeing just for the sake of making a point.
  • Channel your personality:  if you have a wicked sense of humor, use it appropriately.
  • Identify what you’re not willing to change:  know your core values and demonstrate them consistently.
  • Ask for feedback:  find someone who will give you honest, objective input about how you’re doing and ask for it on a regular basis.

It is possible to be the same person at work that you are at home.  Instead of masking your true identity, I encourage you to reveal the relevant aspects of your identity to each audience. 

Listening Has Value

Do You Hear What I Hear?

As the Christmas carol says, “Do you hear what I hear?”  If we’re honest, mostly what we hear is ourselves talking.  Telling others what we think they should do or how they should feel or what we have accomplished since our last holiday letter.

What Am I Doing?

In our results-oriented world, it is easy to focus on delivering value by doing something.  Although we think we’re helping by offering solutions, our spouse, colleague or friend may just want a sympathetic ear or a brainstorming partner.

Giving a Gift

This holiday season is a great time to give the gift of listening.  That means:

  • Keeping our mouths shut and holding our advice until we’re asked
  • Emulating Nelson Mandela and focusing on the person who is talking as if there were no one else in the room
  • Restating what was said so the other party feels heard
  • Expressing empathy

I invite you to give this gift generously and often and reap the benefits of improved relationships.

Stay in Your Lane

I had a conversation recently with a woman who was chastised by her boss for venturing too far outside her job description. Since she thrives on creativity, she was very discouraged and demotivated.   As she talked more about it, she realized that this attitude is pervasive in her company.  It didn’t take long before she was questioning whether this was the right place for her.

Rules Are Necessary Too

What message are you sending to your team members about staying in their lane?  Of course, in some functions following the rules is required and valued.  Does that mean you don’t want people thinking creatively and trying to come up with better ways of doing things?

It’s a Judgement Call

It could be that you are more comfortable staying in your lane, so it might feel a little threatening for someone on your team to get too far from the norm.  It might be more challenging to motivate people who don’t like to stay in their lane.  At the end of the day, you have to decide what is most valuable to your organization.

Unpopularity

People who stray outside their lane often challenge the status quo, which isn’t always a popular position.  Politics aside, think of the impact of those who did:  Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Jobs, Gloria Steinem, and more recently, Ted Cruz.  Can you afford not to have some nonconformists in your company?

It’s Like Riding a Bike

Holding Onto the Seat

Do you remember learning to ride a bike?  Your mom or dad probably held onto the back of the seat and ran alongside you a few times.  Then they encouraged you to try it on your own.  You wobbled a little before falling and skinning your knee.  Depending on their approach, you either kept trying or you gave up until someone pushed you back outside and made you do it again.

But Not Too Long

In my coaching practice, I see a lot of leaders who are discouraging their teams by holding onto the bicycle seat too long and micromanaging.  Understandably, they don’t want anyone to fail but they don’t realize the importance of encouraging people to learn from falling down.  In these situations, I work with my clients to become effective leaders who equip people with the tools and support they need and then let them do their jobs.

Micromanagement or Motivation?

In the book What Leaders Really Do, John Kotter points out that, “Motivation and inspiration energize people, not by pushing them in the right direction as control mechanisms do but by satisfying basic human needs for achievement, a sense of belonging, recognition, self-esteem, a feeling of control over one’s life, and the ability to live up to one’s ideals.”

I invite you to envision what you and your team could achieve if you trade micromanagement for motivation.

How Can You Help Others Handle Loss?

What is My Role?

Recently, I have been very aware of the impact of loss on family members, clients and friends who have lost loved ones or learned of a terminal illness.  While I knew this was an inevitable part of life, I struggled to understand my role in these situations.  In some cases, it was to provide comfort in a very personal way.  In others, it was to offer a prayer that comfort would be provided by someone else.

 

Five Stages of Grief

Have you wondered how to help a friend or colleague who has suffered a loss and is dealing with profound sadness, confusion and fear of what lies ahead? You may be familiar with the five stages of grief as defined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

They point out that not everyone goes through all five stages and may not experience them in this order, but it can be useful to have some idea of what to expect.  The website grief.com has good suggestions for what to say and do.

 

It’s Not About Me

One thing I have learned is that focusing on the other person rather than myself helps us both.  I invite you to keep that in mind when someone you know is grieving.