Keep the Fire Burning!


Spring Cleaning For Your Leadership

SpringI was walking in my garden last week and it inspired me to write this post.  Spring is blooming here.  Most of us look forward to the change of the season.  It made me wonder why we resist change in other aspects of our lives.  Aren’t we all part of the natural world and thus subject to it’s laws of constant change? Why do we expect the changes of the seasons, the tides, the very revolving of the earth in orbit, and resist the changes in organizations, jobs and careers? As we resist change, we stay stuck in leadership behaviors that no longer serve us.  I decided it was time for me to create my own ritual for spring cleaning just like cultures and faith traditions around the world.  We clean our houses, our closets, clean out the winter rubble in our gardens to plant seeds for the new season. Why not take the time to spring clean our leadership? Here are five steps I’m taking.

By |April 6th, 2014|General|2 Comments

Comparison is the Enemy of Leadership

ComparisonMy 14-year old daughter came back from school the other day quite worried. She had put a lot of work into a project presentation for her class. She had gotten 98 points out of 100. Instead of celebrating the 98, she was worried that her arch-rival in class would get a higher grade.  Have you ever found yourself comparing yourself to others? I know I have. And it’s the enemy of leadership.  Here’s why.

Five Steps to Start A Mentoring Circle

Mentor circleDid you know that according to this 2011 Linked In survey of 1,000 women professionals, while 80% said having a mentor was important, only 20% actually had a mentor? In my work as an executive coach and speaker, I notice how easy it is for many women to second-guess ourselves. We tend to focus more on our own weaknesses than our strengths. On the other hand, we are often quick to see others’ strengths and have a desire to support them.  So, it’s important for us to come together to support each other in reaching our dreams.

As promised in my earlier post “Why Aren’t There More Women CEO’s“, I will be sharing a series of articles and resources  for leaders who want to start or join a mentoring circle.  This is the first in the series.  Please comment below and let me know what content will be most useful for you.

Your Personalized Self-Confidence Plan

Self ConfidenceThose who know me would consider me a fairly self-confident person. Most days I feel pretty self-confident. And then there are situations where I wish I had a bit of that Donald Trump “nothing can shake me” confidence. I find myself uncertain, uncomfortable, out of place, and my first impulse is to get away from the situation as fast as my wobbly legs can carry me — toward a bowl of my favorite peanut M&M’s.

The fact is that the most self-assured of us experience self-doubt. Just this week I interviewed Helene Gayle (CEO of CARE) and Jacqueline Novogratz (CEO of The Acumen Fund) for the book I am writing. They are smart, accomplished, self-confident, powerful women who spoke very humanly of the self-doubts they experience. Here’s the “Aha” moment I had after these interviews. Self-confidence is not the absence of self-doubt. Self-confidence is our willingness to be present despite our self-doubtsIt’s our willingness to show up, to try anyway, and to keep going. Self-confidence is a leadership practice. The Donald Trump “nothing can shake me” self-confidence is just an illusion for most of us. So as a leader, how do we keep going toward our goals in the face of self-doubt? Here’s your personalized five-step self-confidence plan.

Five Steps to Amplify Your Personal Brand

Amplify Your VoiceDo you have a clear leadership brand? Is the leadership difference you make clearly understood by the people in your organization? How about the people outside of your organization?

If you’re like me during my corporate career, I was fairly heads-down, nose-to-the-grindstone, getting the work done. Here’s what I’ve discovered since then that I’m hoping each of us will be able to apply in our first and second careers – to have more successful and fulfilling life.

By |April 29th, 2013|General|0 Comments

My Leadership Lesson from the Bombing in Boston

boston marathonThis blog post is personal. I am trying to practice vulnerability (something I’m not very good at) as I write it.

It is with mixed emotions that I write this on April 23, 2013. I was not planning to write it. I was hoping to not have to write it. The emotions I have gone through are sadness, shame, anger, despair, pride, clarity.  The Boston Marathon bombings of April 15 were done by two young Muslim men. I am Muslim.  In the aftermath of the bombings, the emotions that I have experienced caused me to consider who I am as a leader.

By |April 23rd, 2013|General|8 Comments

Empathy Is A Verb – Practice It


Do you want to be able to influence others better? Want to make your sales quota? Want to motivate your team? Try practicing empathy.

In my executive coaching work one of the biggest differentiators of effective leaders I’ve observed is how they practice empathy – being able to put themselves in the shoes of others.  It is a critical part of our emotional intelligence (EQ) and unlike IQ, we can actually increase our ability to be empathetic.  Studies show that those at the high levels of EQ earn $29,000 more per year than those at lower levels.  But how do you actually get more empathetic? I decided to give myself an “empathy challenge”.

By |April 18th, 2013|General|1 Comment

You Are More Beautiful Than You Think

optical illusionI was moved by this brilliant experiment by Dove. I want every woman around the world to see it and appreciate her own beauty.  Only 4% of women around the world think they are beautiful. Watch it. It might just help you see yourself differently. 

It reminded me of all the times I put myself down, all the times that I wince when I see myself in the mirror.  

Now, try a different experiment.

  • Find a friend or work colleague who knows you well.
  • Ask her to write down how she sees you as a leader. Do the same for her.
  • Then make your own list of how you see yourself as a leader while she does hers.
By |April 16th, 2013|General|0 Comments

Why Aren’t There More Women CEO’s

linkedin_logoJust today there was a new Linked In poll that was published. The question that was asked is “Why aren’t there more women CEO’s?”  You could only pick one response which is tough as the issue is complex and there are many reasons. The 241 respondents picked the following responses:

By |April 15th, 2013|General|6 Comments

Why I Don’t Want to be #1

Ambivalence“I am a really good #2. I don’t want to be #1.”

“I really love the job I’m in and don’t want my boss’s job. It just seems too political.”

“I think I could do my boss’s job, but I don’t really want that much stress in my life right now.”

“My kids are young, I’m already working as hard as I can, I can’t really take on that stretch project.”

I’ve been doing a lot of speaking at conferences and connecting with women.  As women approach me with questions, I’m struck by the ambivalence I see in many (not all) to pursue the next big job.  I understand. I actually wrote about why so many women drop out of corporate America.  I was one of them.  For those who want to stay, I advise them to get clear (as hard as it is given the trade-offs) about work life priorities.  Make clear decisions about what’s important, what’s the difference you’re here to make, and stop being ambivalent.  Ambivalence keeps us stuck.  It zaps our energy. Here are the five mindsets I’ve observed that keep us stuck. Do any of these apply to you?