Keep the Fire Burning!

Transformational Tools

Make Your New Year Resolutions Stick

Most of us start this time of year picking new year resolutions. For me, they are the usual suspects. Get healthier. Lose those 20 pounds I’ve been trying to lose since the 1990’s. Become a better person. The latter usually entails becoming more patient, loving, and forgiving in my relationships – including with other drivers on the road. Each year, I carefully set action plans to meet these goals. Yet, most of my goals lose steam around mid-February and it’s back to business as usual: donuts and road rage. With some therapy, I have even found some humor at the irony of being an executive coach and not being able to meet my own goals. The fact is 92% of New Year resolutions fail.

Here’s what I’m doing differently this year. It is from Marshall Goldsmith’s best-selling book called Triggers. The #1 executive coach pays someone to call him every morning and ask him 32 questions that help him to be accountable to be the person he wants to be. I decided to give myself the challenge of asking myself ten accountability questions every morning.

Five Steps to Get the Honest Feedback You Need

As an executive coach, some of the saddest moments I witness is when someone gets feedback…too late. “I was shocked” said one leader to me recently. “It felt like a kick in the stomach coming from someone I trusted”. Her voice cracked as she said this to me and it was clear she was trying to contain her emotion. This leader had been recently asked to take a demotion.  Lack of honest feedback is the biggest career de-railer I know of. We each have blind spots and feedback illuminates them.

I am a big believer that we each come from a place of good intentions. No supervisor walks in the office thinking “today I will be a jerk” and no direct report decides “today I will ignore all the signals that something may be wrong”. Yet, this is what I witness all too often: supervisors who don’t give feedback directly enough and direct reports who aren’t paying attention to the cues that something may be wrong. Incredible as it sounds, l see insufficient feedback as an improvement opportunity in 100% of my executive coaching engagements. It costs organizations millions in lost talent, productivity, trust, and engagement. Read on for five steps to get the feedback you need.

How to Network with Authenticity

Networking-Event-ConnectingI was doing a speaking engagement recently on the topic of leading with authenticity and a woman walked up afterwards. She had a dilemma. She wanted to be able to leverage her network to grow her customer base but felt inauthentic asking her network for help.

A lot of women leaders I meet have good networks but they have a hard time calling on their networks to help them. Why is that? They say it feels “icky”. They feel like if they use their relationships to help them in their business or careers they are being inauthentic. I believe there is a gender expectation that we all need to become more aware of. The gender expectation is that women are supposed to be caring, cooperative and relationship-building – for the sake of relationship-building. Thus, often when a woman wants to leverage her network for advancing goals, it causes her to feel “icky”. On the other hand, many men are happy to use their networks for mutual benefit. They benefit by networking “strategically”. This of course, has nothing to do with authenticity. It has everything to do with the unconscious gender expectations we take on. Authenticity is about connecting with values and a sense of purpose that inspires each of us rather than conforming to gender expectations of who we should be.

So I decided to talk to my good friend Kathy Hatala, SVP at Speakeasy, who is masterful at the art of building and leveraging relationships and doing this with great authenticity. I certainly learned a lot from her in this interview. I hope you do as well.

Three Life-Changing Gratitude Practices

Most of us know that consciously giving thanks for the big and little things in our lives can benefit us in so many ways—from reducing stress to strengthening our immune system. People who are grateful tend to sleep better and have deeper relationships and a more positive outlook. This is a guest post from my friend Tricia Molloy on three gratitude practices that will change your life.

Lead with your Body Intelligence

Wonder Woman

Do you find yourself in situations where you know what the right behavior is, but are unable to actually act on it? Did you know that your body can actually help you to shift your behavior?  I am finding in my executive coaching work that my clients create faster and more sustained shifts in their leadership behaviors when they tap into the wisdom in their bodies. The latest neuroscience research on the mind body connection shows us how much of our leadership behavior is actually embodied.  To change this behavior requires us getting in touch with what is happening in our bodies.  Yes, all that reprimanding from my mom about “don’t slouch”, “watch your posture”, “smile, it will make you feel better” actually works!

According to this TEDTalk by Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy “Your body language shapes who you are“ our bodies can actually help us change our minds, change our behavior, and significantly improve our leadership outcomes. It’s what I call Whole Body Leadership. In her research, candidates who embodied certain power poses (like those by Wonder Woman) prior to job interviews got the job! I had a chance to interview one of the leading embodiment experts, Richard Strozzi-Heckler of the Strozzi Institute about how we can connect and learn from our bodies to grow in our leadership.

Five Steps to Own Your Development Plan

Career Development Are you wondering what’s next for your career?  I always love it when I get e-mails from our blog community about the challenges they are facing. The e-mail I got recently inspired me to write a blog post on the topic. Jane (not her real name), is someone who wants to really grow her leadership. However, she is not getting development or coaching from her boss. She feels disengaged and stuck. Here is her e-mail and my coaching on five steps to create a great development plan.

Three Ways to Rebuild Trust

broken-trust

Do you have a difficult work colleague you’re dealing with? You’re not the only one. I was speaking at a leadership conference to a packed audience on the topic of how to manage workplace conflict.  We discussed step-by-step leadership tools to have the “difficult conversations” that no one wants to have, but are critical to building trust, alignment, transparency, and moving things forward.

A participant came to speak to me afterwards.  She is highly results driven and was frustrated that a work colleague was completely uncooperative and thwarting her efforts on a team project.  Sound familiar? Our teams, projects, and results get stuck when there is lack of trust in a work relationship.  Research shows two thirds of Americans believe most people can’t be trusted. Here are the three steps we discussed to rebuild broken trust:

A Quick And Easy Guide to A Leadership Journal

JournalWe all live in a 24/7 world with more things to do than time to do them.  In our culture we often confuse activity with productivity – leaving us stressed and frazzled.  I will go out on a limb and say that 50% or more of our activity (certainly mine) is unproductive. What if there was a different way? It’s called a leadership journal, and I recommend it to all my executive coaching clients. The Harvard Business Review has quoted research that shows performance improved +18% when people had a chance to reflect on their learning.  Here is how to do it in 10 minutes or less.

Five Unexpected Blessings to Be Grateful For

GratefulMost of us in the U.S. are celebrating Thanksgiving today. As I sat down to write what I’m grateful for, here are five things that came up that usually don’t belong on my list. And yet, as I thought about each of these they are absolutely essential to my growth as a leader and as a human being. Take a quick read.

The Paradox of Playing Nice for Women Leaders

Play NiceHow many times have you stopped to reconsider what you wanted to say because you were concerned about how it would be received?

True story.  I recently wrote a blog post about embracing my inner “dumb blonde“.  The response was overwhelming. I was completely clueless about how many people I would offend in writing this post.  People wrote in wanting to be unsubscribed.  I felt this sinking feeling of not being “liked” in the pit of my stomach.  It didn’t feel good.  I wondered if I should have stayed safe and polite.  As I reflected on my own discomfort at offending so many people, I realized that as women leaders, many of us walk a fine line between being nice and being powerful. We  often hesitate to voice our convictions with confidence.  How to walk this line?