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Read the Signs!

It is summer vacation time and parents occasionally have to find ways to entertain their kids that don’t involve electronics. Remember the classic game of finding the letters of the alphabet on road signs and billboards? You have to watch carefully to find those tough letters like “Q” and “Z”.

Driven, results oriented leaders sometimes miss a few signs on the way to their destination. One of the most frequent comments I hear when conducting 360 feedback interviews is, “he needs to do a better job of adjusting his style based on the situation.” Those signs might look like:

  1. High turnover on your team
  2. Difficulty getting your peers to support your ideas
  3. Your boss tuning you out or cutting you off

When you notice those signs, consider making these adjustments:

  1. Delegate more and micromanage less
  2. Take the time to build consensus
  3. Provide a high level summary and get into details only when asked

I invite you to try and identify one sign this week and figure out which direction you should go. It could make the trip a lot smoother!

 

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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 …

 

You Can’t Go Through Life as a Cardboard Cutout

I recently saw the movie “Railway Man,” a powerful and moving story about a World War II prisoner of war who confronts and ultimately forgives the man who tortured him. Much of the movie was very hard to watch but the ending was worth it.

Do you find yourself drawn to stories or experiences that tap into your emotions or do you tend to avoid them? Compartmentalizing our feelings can help create a sense of control and maintain our sanity. Our challenge is opening up those compartments and dealing with the anger, grief or whatever we locked away. Movies, books, art, music, and nature can be safe ways to release those feelings. If we go through life as a cardboard cutout with no emotions, something might escape when we least expect it.

I invite you to find a healthy emotional outlet this week and share your story with someone…

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The Devil is in the Details

When we hear “The devil is in the details,” we are reminded not to overlook something small that could have a big impact.  When I work with leaders who are detail oriented, they often struggle to let go.  That becomes even more difficult when their boss expects them to have the details at their fingertips.

How do you find the right balance?

  • Set an example – What kind of leader do you want to be?  A micromanager or a big picture thinker?
  • Weigh the risk – What is the worst that could happen if you said, “I can get that information for you.”
  • Push back appropriately – “Based on my assessment of the information provided by my team, I recommend the following…”

I invite you to stretch beyond your comfort zone and trust your team to handle the details, and then manage your boss’ expectations.  You might help him or her become a more effective leader in the process!

 

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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. 

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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.