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Looking Forward

How would you celebrate a major career milestone?  On the tenth anniversary of launching my practice, I am celebrating your inspiration, encouragement, and the privilege of sharing this amazing journey with you.

I am also looking forward to what the next ten years will bring — leveraging thousands of hours of assessment, coaching, team development, and facilitation with clients across 18 functions in 70 companies and helping to cultivate courage through the Dare to Lead™  work.

My first blog post was about removing barriers to career success and that is my celebratory toast to you:  when you look forward may you see the path to the best version of yourself.

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Think Big, Start Small, Learn Fast

What do Netflix and snails have in common?  Check out this Forbes article and go see this documentary The Biggest Little Farm to find out.  The article highlights a formula for successful innovation:  “Think Big, Start Small and Learn Fast” and the documentary provides a great illustration of that formula. It tells the story of a couple who left their white collar jobs to become biodynamic farmers in California.

Since they had no experience, Molly and John Chester found a wise mentor who encouraged them to think big and plan for the future.  He also taught them to start small by bringing the soil back to life with worms.  As you might imagine, the Chesters and their team had to learn fast, often by making mistakes.  After seven years of hard work, Apricot Lane Farms is now 200 acres of organic and biodynamic certified avocado and lemon orchards, a vegetable garden, more than 75 varieties of stone fruit trees and a lot of very photogenic animals.

As you consider opportunities for innovation in your sphere of influence, how might you apply the success formula of “Think Big, Start Small and Learn Fast?”

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How Authentic is Your Leadership Brand?

During my recent Dare to Lead™ Facilitator training with Brené Brown I experienced the power of authenticity up close and personal. Brené is well known for promoting the importance of authenticity as a “daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” She shares her own struggles with perfectionism and self-compassion which it makes it easy to relate to her as a person instead of a superstar who has been on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday and has a new Netflix special Call to Courage.

Since I’ve read all her books and watched her videos many times, I felt like I already knew Brené. Although meeting her was a little surreal it was also very real because her brand is all about authenticity, vulnerability and courage. Brené is the same person no matter what the circumstances.

We often hear about people in positions of power and influence who present one image to the world and another behind the scenes. If I asked your colleagues to describe your leadership brand would they mention authenticity?

Contact cheryl@csbryan.com if you’re interested in finding out more about Dare to Lead™ , developing courage-building skills and teaching individuals and teams to move from armored leadership to daring leadership.

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The Key to Increasing Leadership Development ROI

You’ve just completed a prestigious executive MBA program that required you to be away from your job and your family for an extended period.  The exhilaration of the learning environment has started to wear off and you realize that nothing changed while you were gone.  None of those case studies prepared you for this and you’re pretty frustrated so you decide to return the call from that headhunter to find out if the grass might be greener somewhere else.

That isn’t the outcome companies anticipate when they spend $50,000 or more. Educating the Next Generation of Leaders, a thought-provoking article in the most recent issue of Harvard Business Review, acknowledges that traditional approaches to leadership development are too generic.  Interviews for the article and evidence from LinkedIn Learning indicate that most executives value on-the-job professional development that relates to their environment.  The authors cite anecdotal evidence that only 10% of the $200 billion annual expenditure on corporate training and development delivers concrete results.

Although the authors propose a solution that includes more customized content they overlook a key component to effective leadership development –- coaching.  You can’t get more customized than helping a leader leverage his or her strengths, request and respond to feedback and enhance emotional intelligence.  Sustainable behavior change takes time, practice and accountability.  A seasoned coach will ensure the leader has all the necessary tools for success beyond the coaching engagement.

If you’re ready to increase the return on your leadership development investment contact me at cheryl@csbryan.com

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Are You Leading Like an Alligator?

It’s not every day I meet an alligator in a building lobby – that gets your attention!  I recently had an opportunity to facilitate a team building session at a client site in alligator country.   This alligator was stuffed and buffed so you could see every bony plate.  My Google search told me these plates are what make the alligator’s skin very hard to penetrate.

We humans have a similar armor. In Dare to Lead Brene’ Brown lists 16 examples of armored leadership and 16 daring leadership responses.  One of those armored leadership examples is hiding behind cynicism.  We see this in people who aren’t brave enough to say what they really mean or those who need to put someone else down so they can feel better about themselves.

Effective leaders don’t tolerate this behavior on their teams and they model the appropriate response — being clear and kind.  The challenge for the cynic is identifying and dealing with their underlying anger or fear of inadequacy so they can say what they mean and mean what they say.

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“The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”

I first saw this Lewis Carroll quote in a high school guidance counselor’s office.  The poster featured Alice in Wonderland’s White Rabbit checking his giant pocket watch before running madly toward a mysterious hole in the ground.

As someone who has always been in a hurry to get things done with maximum efficiency, I need to be reminded to slow down.  Even as I write this I’m operating at warp speed to juggle competing priorities and too-short timelines.  And sure enough, a few of my spinning plates have tipped a little too far for comfort.

If your new year is off to a roaring start with too much to do and not enough time to get it all done, let’s take a collective deep breath – using the 4 square technique taught by yoga instructors and Navy SEALs and included in Dare to Lead:

Imagine moving around the 4 corners of a Square

  1. Inhale deeply through your nose, expanding your stomach, for a count of 4
  2. Hold in the breath for a count of 4
  3. Slowly exhale all the air through your mouth, contracting your stomach, for a count of 4
  4. Hold the empty breath for a count of 4
  5. Repeat until you feel calm – in for 4, hold for 4, out for 4, hold for 4

This will help us avoid that mysterious hole in the ground!