How Creativity Enhances Your Ability To Lead

I coach leaders of all kinds, with a focus on their own development of themselves. Learning how creativity enhances your ability to lead is an important skill to hone, especially in today’s new work world. Several of my blogs speak to this, particularly February’s on adding self care to your leadership toolkit.   Seeking to add creativity into self care, elevates the benefits in your professional roles as well as within your self personally. 

Creative time can filter into your work life as enhanced problem solving and innovation, visionary thinking, and improved connection with staff.  An added bonus is your own continued career satisfaction and growth!  Both harmonize with how business is changing from the top down model of leadership to this brave new work world we’re navigating.

Forbes echoes this, saying, ‘effective leadership can require inspiration, which is often better evoked through curiosity and imagination rather than pragmatism.’ 

QUALITIES OF A CREATIVE LEADER

So how do you distinguish what makes a creative leader?  When you read the list, I bet you will think of a few people this describes.  Most of them are quite successful — like Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey. But you don’t have to be at that level of wealth, notoriety or celebrity. There are many, many creative leaders making differences in their way in all levels of the work world.

  • They are intuitive, passionate, authentic 
  • They are curious, think out of the box
  • They inspire and invite ideas and creativity of their team or in their company
  • They grasp that business models are changing, as is the world
  • They will take risks, and are willing to make mistakes
  • They can see and make connections, and strive for everyone winning
 
“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein
 

HOW TO ADD CREATIVITY:

While I have suggested breaks for self care through the day, adding in creativity works on a whole different level.  Rather than doing a chore or surfing the net, try some of these:

  • Go to a museum, or an outdoor sculpture garden. 
  • Paint, learn a craft, wood work, fly a kite, do a puzzle – especially if you’ve never done them before.
  • Take your camera out specifically to photograph things for the sake of seeing differently. Do a study on the weeds in your yard, the patterns on your front steps or kitchen floor, spider webs – you name it. Art is everywhere. 
  • Repair or restore something with your own hands.
  • Play music.  Lay on the couch or floor and listen to every note like you did in high school! Dance to it. Sing.
  • Put yourself fully in the moment with grandkids and see the world as newly as they do. Engage fully in their activities with them – finger painting, frosting cupcakes, blowing bubbles, drawing on the sidewalk with chalk.
  • Spend time in your local library – preferably in the hidden areas.  National Geographic and Time have gorgeous images to look at and interesting stories to read.
  • You know the coffee table books that are mostly decor? Crack one open, and take the time to enjoy it. 
  • If you’re a hiker, biker, kayaker, or boater, do it wearing “different colored lenses’. Turn your attention from tracking miles, speed or heart rate to truly noticing  the nature around you, how your body feels with each motion.  
  • Break your routines. Try something entirely new. Say yes to things you often say no to, just to see what you learn. Go a different route and explore some new surroundings.
  • Find time for introspection. It really frees your mind and allows creativity to enter!  This could include swinging on a hammock, driving yourself to a park with few people with a picnic lunch, meditating, dancing to some favorite music, or taking a bath 
  • You may want to keep a private journal as you go. Writing something down has a way of setting intentions in your subconscious and you will be amazed at how things manifest. 
  • Educate yourself more on a topic. Read articles, do a workshop, talk to a coach.

Finding Time was my most read blog post, which confirms that it is half the battle as people strive to work new activities into their lives. I recommend reading it, as it offers solid ways to create more time to do what you really want or need to do. Even if you don’t want to add anything new to your current activities, you can achieve creative benefits by simply shifting your perspective while doing what you are doing- arguably a creative act in itself!  I’m suggesting you give a try, even for a month – and preferably a lifetime!

This video by John Spencer helps to define what I mean.

INCORPORATE CREATIVITY AT WORK

After you’ve been doing a few of these things, shift the skill of thinking from a different perspective to your work life. What is an alternate approach to your daily responsibilities and interactions with clients and co-workers? What would be some ways to bring creativity into your work and see how that develops?

  • Can you set new goals using your expanded perspective?
  • Who exhibits creative leadership in the company, your field, or the world?  Observe them, read their articles, books, or biographies. Follow them on social media, watch their interviews or output on youtube, and LEARN. 
  • What situations are opportunities to practice using your intuition instead of only relying on your head, or being led by the bottom line?
  • If you have new ideas, how can you express them constructively with others on your team?
  • What of your work or role requires the most creativity? Can you do that in the hours when you feel the freshest?  

I have written about the paradigm shift that has happened in business, jump started by Covid 2+ years ago. That business model of the future is here. There will be a direct correlation with how much it will thrive based on how you and/or your company embraces and acclimates to it – at a time when interesting the right people to fill roles and being sure they have what they need to deliver their best work is imperative. New roles are being created – ie: remote work schedulers, online meeting trainers, touch-less technologies, take out and pick up or delivery services,  online sales managers, etc… Employee well being, inclusiveness and safety concerns are more top of the list, and as a leader, working creativity into your perspective and reflecting that in your actions will take you where you need to go. 

If you would like support in working through how to utilize creativity in your role as a leader, let’s talk.

Delegate to Empower Yourself, Your Team and Your Company

One of the most important leadership skills is knowing how to delegate to empower yourself, your team and your company. It may seem obvious that delegation helps you -but not all have an easy time doing it. It might get easier if you keep in mind that not only does it free you up, it actually cultivates the growth and trust among your staff and the company reaps the benefits too!

In my work coaching executives and leaders, it’s remarkable how many operating at such high levels aren’t afraid to say how much they are shouldering, how stressful life can be, or how overwhelming the world seems at the moment. This is quite a departure from the days where you would never let them see you sweat…  But it’s no longer the right model for business today. In fact, it can come off as inauthentic.

We’ve all had so much change and complications added to our lives in recent years, and yet –the work still needs to get done. One of the most productive secrets of leadership today is to understand the opportunity in delegation: It’s a way to empower your team, build individual self confidence and effectiveness, and create a culture of trust. All involved win, including the company as a whole if done well.

The DevOps Institute defines delegation as assigning responsibility for outcomes, along with the authority to act to deliver the desired results. They go on to say, “You often hear it’s just quicker if I do it, or that’s not how I do it. This has a name: self-enhancement bias. It’s a classic trap that managers (even experienced ones) sometimes fall into.”

Reframed, delegation can be an opportunity to develop someone, or a team, increase their capabilities in the process, which is in turn a more effective method of support to yourself.

ORGANIZE TASKS

First, know what you need to accomplish and break it down into long and short term tasks. Prioritize by timeline or other criteria. Assess what you can delegate – and if it can be done by an individual, or by teams. 

CHOOSE THE RIGHT PERSON

Next, match which task to entrust to the person or people with the proper skill set – or the potential for them.  Who is that person on your team who is eager, or would like to take it to the next level, and could do so with a little support from you?

SET THEM UP FOR SUCCESS

Now, assess what will help them (and you) succeed. Is some training needed (and possible in the time frame) in order for them to do it? If you trained them, how could it help not just for this task, but for future ones? Clearly convey expectations on timing and deadlines. Delegating will show them that you trust and believe in them. This goes a long way to raise the esteem of the staff but also the general culture of trust that you can create at work.

People are happiest doing work they feel they can do well, even if they have to stretch to do it. And happy people do the best work. Delegating is a surefire way to develop them, making them more effective, confident and qualified. And lightens your load, to free you up to do more. That’s self care.

I coach the whole person, and that allows you to move to a whole different level in your work, thinking, performance – and it will pay off. What partnerships can you cultivate so you’re not doing it all yourself?Who is a trusted source? If you have concerns about your staff or certain members, lets talk it through so you can empower yourself, your staff and your company.

Your Leadership Toolkit: Add Self Care

Zen-art-collage

Today, evidence is pointing to an essential skill ripe to add to your leadership toolkit: self care. Leading is hard work, especially so during these times.  Although often viewed as a luxury, balanced self-care is more important than ever for leaders and managers up to the C-suite for peak performance.

As we enter the third year of a pandemic, some of the early upheaval in the office may have begun to settle. Yet a new constant has become learning how to manage ever-present flux and ongoing uncertainty.  To meet the challenges, leaders focus on performance, and achievement which often require hard work, long hours and grit as a professional necessity. This can have a significant impact on health, well-being and personal lives.

SELF CARE AS AN ESSENTIAL PROFESSIONAL SKILL

Let’s start with debunking some limiting beliefs about self care. Far from being self-indulgent or weak, it has become more mainstream. That means it’s on the minds of  your staff and many of your peers. ‘Between 2019 and 2020, Google Search Trends shows a 250% increase in self-care related searches…Men and women of all age ranges.’

Search data suggests people are moving on from simply exploring the topic to taking action, ie: buying different products, eating differently, and practicing new ways to exercise, recreate and relax.

Forbes Magazine recently tackled the topic, saying, ‘Let’s be clear on what self-care is and what it’s not. Self-care is not selfish, but a necessary lifestyle practice for good health. It isn’t just something you do to recover from illness or crisis, but is also preventive and proactive. It’s a way to value and love yourself, but also demonstrate to others that you care to show up at your best for them, personally and professionally. Consistent self-care practice is what sustains our energy and motivation to keep moving through life successfully, and it is a tool of resilience to help us through the hard times.’

And I agree – besides reaping infinite personal benefits, you will set an example for staff and even clients about bringing your best to the table.

HOW TO ADD SELF CARE

Here are some things to consider:

  1. TIME: We all have the same amount of time in a day, yet some use it better. Though we each have different situations, you can create more time by identifying where you waste it – and instead put that toward things that will actually create more energy, clarity, strength, humor and grounding.  You’ll find guidance on How to Find More Time in January’s Blog.

  2. PRIORITIES: Practicing self care helps you identify what’s important to you. Knowing your priorities can inspire you to let go of your time wasters, or make different choices to replace them with what truly supports and excites you. November’s blog will get you clear on who and what really matters to you.

  3. CHANGE: Self care will help you achieve more. What could you stop, start, or do differently to improve your mental and physical health?  If you were to advise your best friend on this, what would you suggest about self care? Now try that on for yourself.

  4. VISION:  I invite you to take a moment RIGHT NOW to shut your eyes (yes, literally!) and envision yourself eating better, exercising regularly, getting good sleep, having fun and spending fulfilling time with the people who matter most into your life.

ENVISION A LEVELED UP LIFE

If you began to add self care in this way, how different would your life be? How would you feel physically? How would your most important relationships be enhanced? Would your outlook shift for the better?

And how much better would you perform at work?

I rest my case.

Self care is no longer a luxury. You can start anytime and make progress in increments on the road to finding what will work. Even very small changes, employed consistently, can make a tangible difference.

The very fact that you’ve read this means you’ve already begun!

You’ll reap countless rewards from personal self care. Adding it to your leadership toolkit will not only be leading by example, but facilitate your peak performance!

If you would like support in working through how adding self care to your life, and  in your role as a leader, this is what I do best. Reach out and let’s talk.

Survive the Great Resignation by Looking Within

An unprecedented number of workers are quitting – but what if you aren’t?  Survive the Great Resignation by looking within to find grounding and purpose amid the change.

We don’t hear much about those at the helm (from global companies to small businesses), those who lead teams, or staff who stay in their positions. This blog is for you. 

The Great Resignation is Real

The headlines are splashed with what is being called the Great Resignation. A Microsoft study has concluded that 40% of the global workforce is considering leaving their jobs this year. The Harvard Business Review points to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics report that 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021 alone. All seek remote work, better pay and benefits, more flexible hours, often with value-driven companies, in an environment that fits their level of safety. Some want their own small business, others are flat out retiring.

The pandemic gave many time to reflect on what matters most to them and how they spend their time. But company owners and leaders may have been forced to focus on keeping afloat in incredible uncertainty. And that’s a recipe for burn out, which may be being felt even more now with the break in the most recent surge.  

You may have decided to stay put, for good reasons. But how do you process how all this has affected you personally? 

Looking Within

Because so much is changing externally, it’s causing internal changes. This is a golden opportunity to look at how you can transform just pushing through every day into something interesting and fulfilling — even invigorating! It’s a time to redesign your definition of success.   

I invite you to contemplate this, and view it as developing a new, very important professional skill. Because it is. Inc.com put it well: “Instead of chasing an antidote to burnout, we need to incorporate well-being and recharging practices into our work and our lives.” 

Everything is really driven by what you value – the rightness you feel about what you’re doing or what feels off when it’s not. And we can’t fit that bill 100% of the time, but our big picture view can certainly make it all work. 

What to Ask Yourself:

1. Have my values changed or deepened?

  • Are those being reflected in the work you are doing?
  • If so, how? In what ways does it present each day?
  • If they’re not, how does it impact you? Can you see ways to bring more meaning into what you’re doing? 

2. How can I change my sense of purpose?

  •  Try on new ways to look at it. A new perspective can be as true as an old one.
  • In August’s blog, I wrote that you are playing a part in a historic change that will set the standard for how businesses run for the next generation! How’s that for perspective? Can you find a fresh or energizing way to embrace that purpose, rather than see it as daunting?
  • Look at what your work asks of you to be considered a success. Then really look deeper at what YOU consider being a success within that. How big is the distance? And what can you do to narrow it?

3. What can I incorporate on a daily basis to sustain me? 

  • What are the triggers that most cause you to stress or feel overloaded? If you can learn to identify those, you can begin to be aware when they happen.
  • Prepare for those by listing way to reset your work habits and flow when things get too jammed up. Where can you fit stress reducing techniques in real time? Plan how to try them out.
  • Write up how you’d onboard a new employee in this new, changing environment. That can open up new avenues for you to find purpose in your own work, and aid you as you work with others.

If you go by your own value fulfillment, you will experience more daily passion and purpose and less burn out. Not only you, but everyone around you, will benefit. That’s potent motivation. 

What if  you’ve looked within but are still unsure how to meet what’s being asked of you with courage, skill and cool?

If you want a partner in this, please reach out to me! Helping people explore this is what I do best.

And why not sign up for my inspirational monthly newsletter?  You’ll receive my newest blog, written on timely, relevant topics, and resources to inspire, feed your spirit, and fill your well – the ultimate in working toward work/life balance.

Thresholds—Leaving Nonprofit Life with Courage and Grace

Leaving nonprofit life with courage and grace requires the proper tools, planning and support. How do you effectively prepare to depart as the leader you’ve always been?

The last 18 months has seen people rethinking what means the most to them and what they are doing with their time. Since the majority of our waking hours is spent on work, it’s among the first to be reviewed.  But for those whom retirement had already been on the horizon, say in the next 1- 5 + years, the pandemic may have provided extra impetus to determine that now is the time to begin the process.

When you consider all that’s involved to leave a fulfilling non-profit life, you may find yourself in confusing waters. How do you sort it all, from getting a clear snapshot of where your staff, board and the organization is, to mapping effective actions in the right timing as you walk toward leaving, to creating a stellar legacy.

Wouldn’t it be invaluable to have an opportunity to share, with a discreet/private, small group of peers, both the joys and anxieties of leaving your work as you walk through an assessment of what’s needed, and work out a plan to leave well?

I co-lead a cohort experience that offers just that, along with Nancy Jackson of EOS Transitions to learn about effective practices to prepare for a legacy well attained, considering the well being of your staff and board.

The experience includes:
• Two-hour virtual sessions over five weeks, for a total of 8-10 hours
• Between-session reading and assignments to amplify the learning and virtual experience
• Confidential participation (Public awareness of your approaching departure is certainly not necessary)
• The Thresholds experience is limited to a cohort of 8-10 peers experiencing the same stage of nonprofit life

The next cohort starts on September 30, but we are planning the next session soon after based on need. Simply contact us and let us know of your interest!

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Leaving nonprofit life with courage and grace sets you on the course to what’s next with grounding. Whether you’re planning to travel, spend time with your extended family, volunteer, create a new business, or pursue personal goals and hobbies, you can enjoy it with peace of mind after a successful retirement.

We’ve gotten really wonderful feedback from the executives who we’ve worked with. Why not let that be that also be you!

Read more about the Thresholds cohort experience and feel free to contact us with any questions.

How To Create a Successful Hybrid Workplace

How-To-Create-a-Successful-Hybrid-Workplace

As we approach nearly two years of grappling with a new model for organizations, learning how to create a successful hybrid workplace is crucial. 

As variants continue to arise, it’s become clear: We will never go back to how it was, not only because of ongoing trepidation due to the pandemic but because a whole new generation of workers have grown up adept at life online and don’t have the same expectation of a physical workplace. 

Yet how do you foster strong connections, especially with many new people coming aboard, if you go mostly digital? This is one of the key questions to tackle.

Being separated from each other during the shut down, not being able to see family or attend important events really drove home that human connection is critical to our well being. 

And as more ask themselves why they’re working, and what’s important to do with their time, it’s clear we do need a balance between remote and office work.

The things you and the organization do today will set the course of how work will be done well into the future! Instead of it being daunting, how about it being exciting and fresh — a blank canvas upon which to leave your mark? 

Lay Your Foundation

My focus this summer has been to address the things leaders will need to do. Starting with 5 kinds of courage  as a basis for the adaptive leadership skills needed, we covered that in the new workplace, laying groundwork for staff safety and wellbeing takes the first priority.  Now we’ll sort out the actual nuts and bolts.

Keys to a Successful Hybrid Workplace  

1. Find What Still Works

Sort out what former workflows and systems can be retained through this transition. Let those, for now, form a basis for the new to be built upon.  As you identify needs, keep a list and schedule meetings with Human Resources or the policy makers in your organization to create what’s needed. 

Look at other organizations that have been managing hybrid teams or distance employees successfully and see what may fit for yours. Review expectations for your teams and see what new ones may have to be communicated.

2. Use Lessons from Shut Down

Take advantage of what we learned from the shut down. because continued pandemic surges should be part of the plan near term.  Business can be done remotely and those working at home are more flexible and quite productive. Global connection is much easier, and now enables finding the best people to work with from anywhere in the world. And that’s good because it’s wise to incorporate that new pandemic surges may be part of the plan near term. 

3. Create Hybrid Teams and Schedules

Some employees won’t return, so in addition to what the current team will go through, there will be new people to be found and onboarded. That may not be able to be done in person anymore. Leaders may have to get creative and assist the new staff in connecting to existing team members, now in two locations – home and office.  The Center for Creative Leadership has some excellent specifics about managing hybrid staff inclusion, and their DAC –  direction, alignment and commitment.

Key things to reimagine are how that bonding will take place, how meetings are run to connect people more, and new positions or titles will likely need to be created: For example: Hybrid Schedule Manager

Since it’s the small talk and daily interaction that forges bonds over time, find ways to create those between remote workers. Have a morning check in meeting for 15-20 minutes with remote teams just to chat with coffee. Perhaps an existing team member can moderate water cooler chats (or rotate who sets the topics) with casual social conversation starters like weekend plans, sports, the most recent binge show, holiday anecdotes etc. Soon it will create itself.

As to working meetings, rather than jump into the agenda, allow a few minutes up front for smaller teams to check in to get connection going. Where possible, use break out chats rooms on Zoom to let smaller groups discuss or plan an item, then rejoin the main meeting to contribute. And take a break if you can see a meeting has become unproductive. 

Prepare For The Future 

Help existing or new staff assist you by offering reskilling or upskilling to meet emerging needs. And, your expectations may have changed or be raised – just be sure to share them clearly with your team.

If indeed it’s evident a new position will need to be created, keep a running list of qualities and talents they will need to have as the problems they have to solve crop up. You may need new HR policies and incur new legal needs, which you can plan for.  

While this may seem challenging, remember the positives to a hybrid workforce: 

  • You can hire the right talent, and perhaps a more diverse one, from wherever they live
  • It can be a win/win for those who want to come in and those who prefer to work remotely
  • You may have a happier, healthier, more productive team than ever before
  • That can help you achieve whatever comes  

And don’t forget – everyone is in the same situation. This is completely new territory and there is no map — but the courage, skills and basics I’ve offered will give you a good start. Since the shift is away from leaders knowing it all, to co-creating this with workers, my goal was to furnish you with what you’d need to set out on this new path. The companies who manage to do this successfully will benefit by not just survival, but by leading the pack. And that will attract the best candidates to fill newly created or vacated positions. A satisfying situation for all. 

While I endeavor to give you these tools, leaders also need their own support. I’m here to provide that to you. Reach out, even for an exploratory conversation, and let me help you not just survive but thrive.

Transition Skills in the Workplace- How Do I Lead Now?

Leadership-In-The-workplace-How-Do-I-Lead-Now

There’s a lot of talk about transition skills in the workplace. How do I lead now is a question many are asking themselves. Covid isn’t exactly over, but businesses across the US are opening up. One thing is clear: There is no return to the workplace of the past. It’s a whole new frontier. But it is also an unprecedented opportunity to create something better. 

2020 showed us how marvelously adaptable we can be. Practically overnight, life as we knew it flew up in the air… then landed piece by piece, reconfiguring a new reality and ways of doing things. While the pandemic lessened the need for certain products and services, it created demand for others. Many who found themselves needing work took what was available, learning new skills on the fly. Others re-skilled themselves while in lockdown, anticipating shifts in the workplace. Some found they could continue and even grow in their field, no longer limited by location due to the entire globe operating online. 

Similarly, being effective at refining organizational culture for a hybrid workforce is requiring leaders to evolve their mindset and use – or develop – different skills. 

HOW DO I LEAD NOW?

An umbrella term for innovative thinking, Adaptive Leadership guides leaders to work with people on problems that can’t be resolved the traditional way.  A well-known model  based on the work of Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky, it creates a shift from everyone relying on you for the answers to you co-creating with teams and individuals, guiding them to come up with their own.

Engaging staff and listening with empathy is crucial to the process of navigating through transition. But what skills and methods will you need?

MAKE WELL BEING A PRIORITY

Well-being was a rising trend before Covid, but coming out of this last year’s prolonged anxiety, burnout, and grief, managing it now tops the list for a successful workplace. Forbes.com offers,“…we will need much more depth in social and emotional skills.” Here are some things you can incorporate:

  • SAFETY FIRST

Safety is a top concern in returning to work, and one of the easier problems to solve.  Discuss and survey what safety practices are most important to your staff . Find where their greatest concerns lie. From there, form safety standards and practices and immediately invest in whatever is needed — from plexiglass to disinfectant and cleaning supplies, to a mask policy. Letting them know what the new standards are will go a long way in those returning to feel protected and valued. If this isn’t done first, it will be at a price to the organization – from managing stressed out, less productive employees to losing them. 

  • MENTAL/PHYSICAL HEALTH

Due to continuing uncertainty, there are a lot of wide-ranging concerns around the return to work. Because so many really benefited from working at home, or are happy to get back to the office but in lockdown learned how valuable a work-life balance is, mental and physical health is undeniably top of mind for all. While HR is largely responsible for well being support, there is a lot you can do as a leader.

Arrange for HR come in to present about resources and opportunities for connection. 

MODEL SELF CARE

Keep reasonable hours at the office, make time during work to eat healthfully, use a standing or walking desk, take short breaks, get fresh air, put fresh flowers or photos on your desk, etc.

Inspire good boundaries, especially for those who work at home. Don’t call them before or after business hours or on weekends unless it’s an emergency, encourage them to take vacation days, and approve time for their healthcare visits.  

OPEN UP COMMUNICATION

Find new ways to keep the lines of communication open ie: scheduling one-on-one conversations in your office, creating workshops around it, and setting up a private suggestion portal. Check in regularly with remote workers to prevent them feeling out of the loop, and encourage personal check ins the first 10+ minutes of online meetings to sustain camaraderie. Start with a clear invitation for a two-way conversation, then be a receptive, active listener. Truly hearing your workforce is critical to holding on to them, for they will play a significant role in the next steps for the organization.  

  • EMPATHIZE

People have been through a LOT – but you have too!  That commonality lays groundwork for an authentic connection which can inspire trust and loyalty. Having employees help create what’s next rather than top down directives will invest them in the transition’s success and show in their best work. 

  • BE FRANK

Your team will respond better in uncertain times to what is known and unknown, even if it isn’t great news, because they sense the truth of it.  If they are informed about where things are really at, they can invent and employ far more effective solutions.  

Keep up consistent, clear communication, including expectations as they evolve. This is a very important skill to shepherd people through uncertain times which gives them what they need to be reliable and committed as things become more certain.

COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP

The key to great leadership is courage. Apply your brand of courage to the challenge of building a hybrid culture based on the well being of the workforce and the values of the company and.

Rather than ramping straight up to what was, put people first and co-create what’s next with them. This is the ticket to hang on to the most valued talent while being very attractive to the best candidates to fill new positions.  

Next month I will be covering how to manage hybrid schedules and teams. Don’t miss it!  Better yet, please sign up for my monthly newsletter to get each month’s blog, inspiration and uplifting resources straight to your inbox. 

The Key to Great Leadership Is Courage

Superhero Team with Capes Graphic

The key to great leadership is courage, especially now, in these times of uncertainty and change.  

When you think of having courage – what’s the first image that comes to mind? A superhero in the power stance, cape flowing? A mother fighting for her child’s welfare? A person putting themselves at risk to save someone else? How about facing an employee — or a board — to navigate a difficult issue… or truly listening when your team’s opinions are different than yours? They all require courage. Because courage comes in many shapes and forms. 

The pandemic has advanced this to a whole new level. It led to creating new practices and policy on the fly, new needs to work around like childcare, health care and a host of distractions and emotions. 

Now more than ever, courage is needed in leadership. Let’s look at five specific kinds of that courage. 

1. Leadership Courage

There are business goals, deadlines and budgets to meet, using daily processes and systems, while striving for exceptional client and market communications. Add that those have to be accomplished while managing people’s new needs, losing some to layoffs or FOMO, handling unexpected losses (or profits) that are way off projections, almost all of it juggled via a virtual environment. Leadership courage is navigating those waters while communicating clear expectations, trusting enough to delegate, holding people accountable, and working with any performance issues so they can rise to their potential. It also means letting someone go (even if they are brilliant) because it’s mucking with company culture. Courage is doing what is right for business, morale and harmony, even if it may be tough to do.

2. Social Courage 

This is about what you uniquely bring to the table, being brave enough to understand the power of your authentic voice, and knowing when to express it – and when not to.   What you have to offer may be a risk to put out there but the upside is it could be a game changer! Social courage is not just being bold, but the art of knowing when and how to go there. Done with a mixture of confidence and openness to feedback, the value you bring will stand out. 

3. Intellectual Courage

There is a lot of reward in this brand of courage, which presents as being open minded to others ideas, as well as thinking ourselves out of our own boxes. Here we step out of our comfort zone, healthfully question, work with others, and even become willing to blunder in service of solutions!  It can be tough to do when there is such pressure to be the hero or always right, but the truly heroic path is open discourse for the greater good, regardless of differences. Intellectual courage wins respect and creates trust and safety. 

4. Moral Courage

Your integrity is the fuel for this kind of courage. It’s about the ability to do what’s right, even when it may produce pushback or judgement.  To say what you mean, and more importantly, act on what you know in your gut is gratifying and lights the way for others to do the same. The world needs it now too. If your work aligns with your inner compass, values and ethics, you will have a true and fulfilling sense of purpose which serves the highest and best of all involved. Win/win. 

5. Emotional Courage

This year has honed our emotional courage, even if we didn’t realize it. Overnight we were forced to tolerate total upheaval and the unknown — and take the next steps anyway, no matter what we may be feeling. Those emotions are utilized as we go. We need this courage because the landscape of our lives, especially at work, are not returning to what it was. It takes courage to adopt new practices, sort and make the best of the feelings it brings up and dive back in.  Even if you put everything into it and experience some failures or end up with a different outcome than you had planned, you have not lost — you have led by example. 

The key to great leadership is courage

When leaders make a conscious effort to identify which types of courage they are good at and which they need to build, they not only grow more at ease and empowered in their role but become an invaluable contributor to every individual, team, client and company they interact with.  

As you read over these types of courage ask yourself: Which do I already do well? What stood out to polish as I strive to lead others? 

Once you find what you resonate with, it’s about how you’ll step up. If you want to discuss these forms of courage, or working with them to make your leadership shine, I am more than happy to help. Let’s connect! 

Becoming aware of these kinds of courage will create a shift in your perspective. You may find yourself operating a little (or a lot) differently with both challenges and people. The benefits you will see in time will confirm that you indeed have that essential courage.

And you won’t even need a cape!

Crossing the Threshold to Retirement with Confidence

Crossing the Threshold to Retirement with Confidence

If you are a non-profit executive preparing to retire, that milestone step forward can be immensely enriching if well planned. When crossing the threshold to retirement, there are many practicalities to consider — the board and staff, the successor, organizational vulnerabilities, and the like.

As a leader, you may feel there are few places where you could trust processing the joys and anxieties of leaving your work and shifting an identity you’ve had for a long time.

This May, I’m again co-leading a workshop to help you effectively design your legacy and prepare for your leadership departure with confidence. It’s called Thresholds: Leaving Nonprofit Life with Courage and Grace.

We facilitated this workshop in January and found it to be very inspiring. Nine Executive Directors gathered, each in the midst of deciding when to transition from their positions. Their time frames varied from as soon as 6 months to a few years out. Yet all were looking for a way to explore, process and plan their departure.  And they did it, together and with purpose, to great satisfaction!

 

‘This group and the time we shared is memorable and so unique. We came together as strangers and, even through Zoom, we connected on a much deeper level. Thank you everyone for your honesty and sharing your personal perspective.’

– Thresholds participant

 

Since everyone understood the unique mix of challenges, struggles and excitement around the decision to leave, it created a wonderful cohort of equals who clicked. We found they had a hunger just to talk, reflect on their legacies, and what they wanted to do after years of professional service — whether it was moving on to something they’ve always wanted to do, or focused on how their personal lives could grow.

And the Thresholds workshop, a welcoming and fertile environment, was just the way to do it.

If you find yourself resonating with this, the workshop might be of interest to you. If so, here’s a preview of how we guide crossing the threshold to retirement.

We take everyone through a five part process over a period of 5 weeks:

1. EVOLUTION OF LEGACY

We cover what brought you to your work, and how different the world is now as you want to move on.  This sets the stage for musing how you want to leave things so they are relevant to these times, and creating a checklist of what needs to be done to get there.

2. TRANSITION PATHWAY

This section has two parts. First, we explore what you don’t want to leave undone, unsaid or undiscovered. Then we move on to practical information about leadership transition: How to work with the board, support the staff and the like.

We make use here of the William Bridges model, which provides a good framework to understand how transition  affects you and also your people. His book, “Transitions,” is a resource I use often in my coaching practice.

3. GETTING IT ALL DONE

In this stage, we address what you may be grappling with, and practice peer to peer coaching – accessing the wisdom and experience of the group to help each other work through transition challenges and concerns.

4. POTPOURRI of QUESTIONS

As everyone goes deeper exploring the transitional process, new questions can emerge around authentic fears and hopes, identifying what you’re willing to let go of, when it is time to go public and how, what the future looks like and how you want to celebrate it!

5. THE WAY FORWARD

A wonderful opening! This is where you’ll envision the future: reclaiming some of the freedoms and possibilities you may have set aside to be so responsible. We talk about opportunities which could include learning new things, and getting time to spend with family, untethered to a phone or schedule.

These steps are empowering! It was amazing to watch participants transform from where they started to looking forward to what’s next, feeling centered and clear. The strength and confidence that came from this cohort had everyone leaving with the unspoken certainty that it is no longer so lonely at the top.

 

‘Our roles can be isolating at times, especially relative to a critical decision such as this.  What a wonderful opportunity to learn from peers reaching a similar point in our careers.’

– Thresholds participant

 

There is so much potential in you for this next evolution! Crossing the threshold to retirement is one of the most important turning points of your adult life. You deserve to invest the thought, time and depth it offers you.

The Thresholds Workshop starts May 6, 2021. If you’d like, sign up today

If you would have questions or want to know more, reach out to me, and let’s talk!

Harness the Three Brains of Leadership

Harness the Three Brains of Leadership

To be an effective leader in today’s climate of challenge and change, harness the Three Brains of leadership — not just the one in your head, but the ones found in your gut and your heart. If you rely solely on using your head, you’re leaving these two other vital resources untapped.

 

Three Brains?

A wealth of neurological evidence is emerging, pointing to each of us having three “brains” — the intelligence found in our head, but also in our gut (the enteric brain) and heart (the cardiac brain). All are innate and at work 24/7, whether you utilize their messages or not. My goal with this series is to introduce you to the findings from these scientific studies as an exciting new way of operating in your work and life, and to help you to develop it.

Head Intelligence

My series started with The Role of Heart Intelligence in Leadership followed by How to Listen to Your Gut. I deliberately saved Head Intelligence for last as it’s the most familiar to us all.

Our head is constantly taking in and processing information in order to make decisions. We rely on this as our primary source of information. It also governs things that are so automatic we don’t even notice, ie: our breathing, heart beat, fighting infection, etc. Amazing that we carry on, largely unaware of the very things that are at work moment by moment, even the ones that are literally keeping us alive!

Heart and Gut Intelligence

Similarly, our heart and gut are also taking in information and communicating to us. They can serve us greatly, if we only tuned in! We’d have much more information at our disposal about people, projects and situations from which to pick and choose, apply or reserve.

The ability to do this is showing up as a key quality to carry leadership forward in a demanding world. Much is beginning to be written about this, for example, this article by Grant Soosalu and Marvin Oka:  In it they say, “A new field of leadership development is emerging, known as mBIT (multiple brain integration techniques). It provides organizational leaders with practical methods for aligning and integrating their head, heart and gut brains for increased levels of emergent wisdom in their decision-making, and for developing an expanded core identity as an authentic leader.”

Integrate Your Three Brains

Now that you know that science is finding Heart and Gut Intelligence to be as real and calculable as our brain function, the key is to combine what all three have to offer, to truly be at your best.

Instead of making decisions, taking action, and communicating based solely on what you have in your head, imagine taking advantage of this additional, very real and useful intelligence to add to or blend the information from your head!

Leaders who make it to the top often rely on their instincts – their gut intelligence, or by listening to their heart — and have confidence to act boldly. We think of them as mavericks, apart from us mere mortals. Rare.

But my point is that none of us are “mere” anything! We all have these three brains within us, ready and available. We develop our brains through experience and education. All that needs to be developed for our Heart and Gut Intelligence to serve us is our awareness of them, and an ability to utilize each to the degree needed with any given person or situation.

Can you imagine feeling as comfortable sourcing what your gut and heart tell you as you do with your head? To access only one is to miss operating at your full potential not just your work, but with your family, friends, and in your community — not to mention your own life experience too!

The good news is, by the mere fact of your reading this far, we’ve begun that inner conversation! That small shift can begin to create, in its quiet way, concrete changes over time. If you want to learn how to identify which brain you are or could be using, and judge when to act on it – or not act, that is my specialty!

Please get in touch and let’s talk about your goals!