Keep the Fire Burning!

Transformational Leaders

So you want to be coached?

Working with an executive coach is not for the faint of heart. In fact, if you’re going to get the most out of the experience, it can be both exhilarating and exhausting. In a great coaching relationship you confront truths about yourself that are often hard to see, you learn how to be uncomfortable and still do what needs to be done, and you exercise muscles you never thought you had. You also walk away with a much deeper connection to your authentic self, greater self-confidence, and an exciting vision of the impact you want to make for those around you.

In my executive coaching practice with high potential leaders, I get to learn first hand what truly makes a difference between the leaders who meet the goals they set for our coaching work, and those who miss out on the opportunity.

On the surface these leaders have a lot in common. They are all senior leaders in Fortune 500 companies. They are smart, ambitious, and committed to their careers. Their companies want to invest in their growth. The coaching process we work through is similar.

Yet, across hundreds of coaching hours with these leaders I’ve observed five practices that truly make a difference in whether leaders meet their goals or not. Those who do transform themselves, progress rapidly in careers, and transform the organizations they work within (one of them is on Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women list). The key variable that makes a difference is not me (the executive coach) at all. It’s the person being coached and what they practice.

Leadership Lessons from the Earth – How to Manage Change

Earth DayChange is all around us. The pace of change is accelerating. A key leadership trait for the future is to be agile to change and harness it’s power for our organizations.  Who is the real expert at managing change? It’s Mother Earth. The planet has been evolving for billions of years, successfully managing change. On Earth Day 2013, here are ten wise lessons we can learn from the Earth.

Gathering the Women Who Inspire Me

Gather the womenThese last couple of weeks I have been inspired by some amazing women who are transforming the world each in their own way.  I wanted to share the wisdom of four of these women. They each have found their voice as authentic leaders and are making a difference in ways that are important to them.

I was sparked to do this “Inspiration Roundup” by Whitney Johnson’s “Dream Roundup“. She’s the author of “Dream, Dare, Do” and asks us to disrupt ourselves, step outside of our comfort zones and stretch toward our dreams. A disrupter of ideas, a writer of poetry, a former Wall Street analyst, an equity investor, she is an all-around renaissance woman!

Inner Authority – Lessons on Authentic Leadership from Marissa Mayer

marissa-meyerWatching Marissa Mayer on the new documentary “MAKERS: Women who Make America” this week, I couldn’t help but think we have a new face of a feminist leader.  “MAKERS” is a 3-hour documentary that tells for the first time the story of the women’s movement.    The controversy over her decision to ask remote Yahoo employees to work in the office, is especially sharp because this is a female CEO, of a troubled company, in the spotlight taking away flexibility.

What fascinates me about Marissa Mayer’s decision is not whether it’s right or wrong.  What fascinates me about this decision is that she had the guts to make it – – something her male predecessors didn’t.

A Higher Calling for Corporations – Conscious Capitalism

Conscious CapitalismSomething’s stinking up corporate America. On Feb 15, a 3% decline in shares of Walmart drove the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) down in negative territory.  This was driven by internal e-mails about dismal February sales at Walmart that were leaked out, one saying “Where are all the customers? And where’s their money?” And then there is the issue of Walmart’s European arm Asda discovering horse meat in a “beef” pasta sauce it sells. If that wasn’t enough, Carnival Cruises CEO apologized this same week to 4000+ passengers stuck in a cruise ship in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico due to fires shutting off all power. The passengers suffered terrible conditions with the lower floors of the ship flooded with human excrement. Apparently the ship had suffered from issues prior to its sailing but no one made the decision to ask whether it was “sail-worthy”.

These two incidences this week reinforce a question asked in discussions at Davos in January, and in a recent book called “Conscious Capitalism“.  The question is what’s the purpose of corporations?  Of business in general? Apparently making money is high on the list given these two recent examples. But, could there be a higher calling?

Are Women Less Ambitious? Confessions of A Corporate Drop-Out

Lean InAt Davos 2013, there was a lot of buzz about only 17% of the attendees being women.  Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook advises women to “lean in” (her book by the same name is coming out in March).  She advises women to stop second-guessing ourselves and have more confidence in our abilities. I agree. Except that I see a lot of senior level women who are corporate dropouts actually leaning in. They are leaning in to their purpose, their power, and their authenticity.

The “Pause Principle” & Why It’s Critical For Women Leaders

The pause principleIf you feel like you’re juggling work and life 24/7 you’re not alone. The stress of this juggle not only undermines our leadership, it threatens our well-being.  What the solution to this insanity? I seem to recall Albert Einstein saying: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.  So do something different. Pause. I had a great conversation with author and mentor Kevin Cashman this week and here’s what he shared that just might bring more work life sanity to our work and to our lives.

Want Diversity & Inclusion? Get the CEO who Gets It

Linda HudsonIf you want to really figure out how someone will act, find out their beliefs. If you want to find out what someone believes, have them share their personal story. It is our personal experiences that shape our beliefs.

I was a speaker a few weeks ago at the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) conference for BAE Systems Inc. (one of the top defense contractors in the US with $30 billion in sales and 100,000 employees). I was somewhat surprised by the large number of men (about 50%) at the conference (most of these conferences tend to have mostly women). I was somewhat surprised to hear that D&I is a Top 5 priority for this company with metrics measured at quarterly business reviews. I was somewhat surprised to sit through some courageous and uncomfortable conversations about “white male privilege” in the room. Then the CEO came in and I got it.

Why Every CEO Needs to Lead A Volunteer Team

TEDxCPWI have learned more about leadership leading volunteer teams in the last two years than I learned in my 20 year corporate career.  Leading volunteer teams has been a humbling experience for me. All CEO’s (or any leader) can benefit from this experience as the workplaces of the future move from command and control hierarchies to networks of alliances within and outside organizations.  The experience of leading volunteers created powerful paradigm shifts for me. These shifts are critical to engaging globally dispersed work forces, virtual teams, and millennials in what has become a 24/7 work culture in danger of burnout. I share a blog post I recently wrote for the TEDxblog on five paradigm shifts.

To Be or Not To Be Humble

Recently I had an executive coaching client ask me a great question. She asked whether it’s good to be humble. She’s faced with a situation where people around her are “tooting their horn” and exaggerating their results. It’s end of year performance ratings negotiations.  She doesn’t feel all that comfortable doing that yet she struggles because her perception is that she needs to do that in order to get ahead. What to do?