Explore how to become a more effective leader and increase productivity.

Watching my two year old granddaughter dancing and singing these lyrics from the Disney movie “Frozen” was a moving experience:

“Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go…”

I hope my granddaughter will continue to embrace the concepts long after she knows all the words and what they mean — letting go of worrying about what others think of you.  Of course, that’s easier when things are going well and we feel like we’re making good decisions.  It’s much harder not to worry about what others think when we make a very public mistake.

I Am Enough

Self-acceptance requires acknowledging our imperfections, which can be pretty uncomfortable.  My introduction to Brené Brown’s work was her book The Gifts of Imperfection.  It was a gift to me to be reminded that I am enough even though I’m imperfect – and so is everyone else.  All my clients struggle with feeling inadequate at times.

I Need Grace

Self-compassion is vital to self-acceptance.  Kristin Neff’s Self-Compassion Scale is great tool for assessing how we can improve this skill.  It reminded me that I need to keep working on giving myself grace.  One of Dr. Neff’s Self-Compassion Exercises invites us to treat ourselves the way we would a close friend who is struggling – with empathy and compassion.

We are so much more effective when we let go of the need for approval from others and practice self-acceptance.  I am motivated to get better at this so I can set a good example for my granddaughter.  What will motivate you?

You can tell your car is out of alignment when it pulls away from the center line.  How can you tell when you’re out of alignment as a leader?  My clients tell me they don’t feel aligned when they make a decision that supports the financial health of the business but damages the trust they worked hard to build with their team.  Or when they are too quick to trust their gut without rationally examining the options.  It’s easier to stay on the right road when we align our head, our gut and our heart.

What is Your Leadership Model?

The first step toward alignment is defining who you want to be as a leader.  In his book The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights, Doug Conant explains the importance of building your own leadership model.  Your model might be inspired by others but it must align with your values, beliefs and competencies.

Whose Story are You Living?

Conant’s journey on the road to aligning his head, gut and heart required owning his story rather than the story someone else had in mind for him.  This shift enabled Conant to turn around Campbell Soup Company by boldly making tough decisions and honoring the successes of individual employees.  Campbell’s  employee engagement went from the worst to the best in the Fortune 500 but it took ten years.  Conant fulfilled his promise to “win in the workplace before we can win in the marketplace.”

If you’re feeling off-center, I invite you to take a deep breath and imagine aligning your head, gut and heart.

  • What is the first thing you would do?
  • What obstacles might prevent you from doing that?
  • How can you manage those obstacles?
  • Who will hold you accountable?

It was so moving to hear my client’s story about his new approach in dealing with a subordinate who had been his peer and friend for many years.  We talked in advance about how he wanted this person to feel and how he wanted to feel at the end of the conversation.  My client wanted to be careful not to hurt his friend while addressing some negative behaviors that were likely related to competition and resentment.  The client put himself in his friend’s shoes and the preparation paid off – his friend became more at ease, self-confident and trusting.  He is now disclosing information more readily which enables my client to be more effective in his role and ultimately impacts the bottom line.

To Infinity and Beyond

This same client also described how he handled a difficult situation with a neighbor in a way that prompted her to tell other family members about it.  Then his wife complimented his interaction with a plumber who made an expensive mistake.  When you start multiplying the impact of my client’s new behaviors, the ripples are endless.

Make A Choice

Of course, the opposite is true as well – our negative behaviors have equally strong effects on those around us.  We see the results in schools, workplaces, communities and families over multiple generations.  When you envision what ripple effects you want to create, what behaviors will you choose to generate benefits beyond yourself?

Are you wondering when we’ll get to the new normal?  In Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0, Jim Collins writes that “uncertainty is chronic, instability is permanent, disruption is common, and we can neither predict nor govern events. There will be no ‘new normal’; there will only be a continuous series of ‘not- normal’ episodes that defy prediction and are unforeseen by most of us until they happen.” Simon Sinek explained on Brené Brown’s  Dare to Lead podcast, “If you have a finite mindset that thought scares you, and if you have an infinite mindset you smile and think, “Ooh, that’s fun.”   Sinek pointed out that an infinite mindset empowers us to find opportunity in surprise.

Do You Like Surprises?

I’ve had countless coaching conversations in the past year with people who are really sick of surprises.  I am too!  Although it’s hard to envision opportunity when I’m in survival mode, I can appreciate that embracing an infinite mindset will help me adapt and thrive.  When I saw Ford Motor Company’s announcement that 30,000 employees in North America will have personalized work schedules that include face-to-face interactions in the office and independent work at home, I recognized this as an example of applying an infinite mindset to the long-standing issue of work/life balance.

The Future is Fluid

How will your team work together in the future?  Nikki Morgan, EVP of TDIndustries, a construction and facilities services company, sees a common theme emerging: much more flexibility regarding where you work, but in-person collaboration will be essential.  Nikki said, “More investment will be made in technology to enable remote workers to interact easily with onsite or other remote employees.  Offices will be de-densified to allow for more distance between people and much more collaborative spaces.  Some are looking for more real estate, while others are looking to reduce.  Although my company will probably never be back to 100% onsite, we are committed to providing safe environments for collaboration.   We have a people-centered culture built on strong relationships between employees, so we will have to work harder to ensure we still have face-to-face opportunities to build those relationships.”

Simon Sinek believes that “leaders who embrace an infinite mindset…build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations. They have the resilience to thrive in an ever-changing world, while their competitors fall by the wayside. Ultimately, those who adopt an infinite mindset are the ones who lead the rest of us into the future.”  Contact cheryl@csbryan.com if you want to be one of them!

As the pandemic wears on, people are struggling more than ever with bandwidth challenges.  Of course, internet bandwidth is a common problem since everyone is constantly on video calls but limited mental bandwidth has become a prevalent topic with my coaching clients.

Lack of Focus

It’s not surprising that lack of sleep, stress, multi-tasking and distractions are affecting our ability to focus.   Right now I’m distracted by the hole we had to cut in my wall to get to a broken pipe caused by one of the worst ice storms in Houston’s history.  You might be struggling with home schooling your children, trying to get a vaccine for a family member or forecasting business results in an ever-changing economic environment.

Three Strategies

When you feel yourself starting to shut down, these three strategies can help increase your mental bandwidth:

  • Heighten your awareness: start by identifying the things that are the most distracting and why it’s essential that you change how you deal with them.  Texts and emails are persistent culprits but it might be your pet who is more fun than fully engaging on yet another team call.  Building relationships leads to more effective teamwork which impacts the bottom line.
  • Make a plan: explore resources like Ready for Anything, Essentialism and Getting Things Done to find solutions to prioritizing what is most important.
  • Enlist support: whether you need administrative support, a coach and/or an accountability partner to check in on your progress, you’re much more likely to succeed if you don’t try to go it alone.

I suggest you give yourself a break, acknowledge that things are tough and then refocus to increase your bandwidth.

So many people have lost more than their jobs in this pandemic – they have lost their identities.  They don’t know how to answer the question, “What do you do?”

Safety in Numbers

Since humans are wired for connection and belonging, it makes sense that we gravitate toward people with similar interests and perspectives.  As we share experiences, our relationships deepen and the safety we feel as part of a group reinforces our identity.  When you lose a job that severs your connection to a work group or professional association, you may struggle with how to define yourself and your value.

Who Do You Want to Be?

If you consider who you want to be and how you measure your professional and personal value, your answer might be, “I want to be a partner, parent, friend and team leader.”  Bruce Shaffer, whose position as Director of Human Resources and Internal Communication for Schlumberger’s subsea business was eliminated recently, explained that he was able to move from bitterness to acceptance by getting clear about who he wants to be.

Bruce recognized his value to family members and former colleagues who needed his support.  As he reflected on what success means, Bruce said Ralph Waldo Emerson described it best:  “To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children … to leave the world a bit better … to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.”

What would it mean for you to believe that you are more than the job you do?