Thinking Outside the Box: A New Paradigm

To listen to this month’s blog, click here.

The ability to think outside the box is more than just a skill—it’s a transformative power that can lead to greater productivity and innovation in our personal and professional lives. I’ve been reading up on this topic and have found several truly interesting  resources to share. Below are three different perspectives on thinking out of the box.  Drawing from these articles, let’s explore ways to dismantle the ‘walls’ of traditional thinking and kindle an environment where creativity and groundbreaking ideas can thrive.

The Walls of Conventional Thought

Traditional thinking can box us in with invisible walls. I found it helpful that a Forbes article took the tact of naming those walls after characteristics which limit our potential: blame, complaints, defensiveness, and closed-mindedness. It’s helpful to see each of these in the context of 4 walls to a box that you want to break free from. 

Recognize The Barriers

The first step is to recognize these barriers. The article defines each to help you do so. Then the work is to consciously strive to release those qualities.  You can do this by writing down just 2 or 3 simple changes you can make to get to the productivity and upliftment that await you beyond them. For example, they suggest these four practical starters. Look for how you can:

  • Transform blame into a sense of ownership. Owning it is actually good news, because you have the most power here to do something positive about it. 
  • Pivot from dwelling on problems to devising solutions. Looking for how to solve problems you’re in, with even the smallest positive steps forward, will feel incredibly freeing – and release a lot of energy you may not realize was keeping you down. 
  • Replace defensiveness with openness to accountability. Again, the best thing for progress is if the ball is in your court. You can gain respect for being accountable, and admiration for being willing to make something better. Defensiveness shuts doors to opportunity and connection.
  • Exchange closed-mindedness for a curiosity that welcomes new and diverse perspectives. Innovation relies on being open minded. Curiosity is a great way to test a concept or brainstorm… and it’s THE way great ideas happen. 

Instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box.” Deepak Chopra

 

 

Imagination and Fractal Changes

Venturing outside the box also calls for a ‘radical imagination,’ a concept focused on in a Harvard Business Review article. It’s about challenging the status quo with ‘wonder questions’. Again, the benefits of getting curious. Try frequently asking “I wonder why…” 

They introduce fractal changes – the subtle yet impactful shifts in our approach and mindset that impact the big picture. It’s a new perspective that is both simple and radically out of the box!. The article suggests that by focusing on consciously making micro-changes in both our behavior and thought processes, we create a ripple effect that can reshape the larger systems in play.

Thinking outside the box isn’t just a cliché; it’s a vital edge strategy for today’s rapidly changing world. It involves breaking free from traditional patterns,  and embracing both radical imagination and impactful fractal changes. 

As covered in last month’s blog, the journey of innovative thinking starts with a single step beyond conventional boundaries. If you’re poised to embark on this transformative journey, let’s connect and explore the possibilities together.

7 Ways to Regain Your Work Mojo After Time Off

Back to the office after a break but still feeling tired and unfocused? Here’s 7 ways to regain your work mojo after time off!

We’ve all been there: You’ve had a break from work – whether a vacation, lone weekend or a sabbatical, Your intent was to come back refreshed, yet upon your return, you don’t feel the energy or you hoped for. Here you’ll find 7 ways to regain your work mojo after time off. 

Whatever your reasons for feeling anywhere from uninspired to exhausted, don’t discount the deep burnout we have from our society’s habits and trends. We know it well: social media scrolling, blue light exposure, the endless news, continued effects from Covid, and even the pressure to do all the healthy stuff we know so much about now (eating paleo/whole 30/keto/macro, getting enough sleep, mushroom coffee SO MUCH), trying to be mindful and present all through. So even if we take a vacation we can end up not feeling quite rested and walk into work with trepidation. 

According to a recent Harris Poll conducted by Zapier, many leaders resonate with this sentiment, with 87% dreading aspects of returning to work. Topping the list? Settling back into routines, catching up on administrative tasks and team goals, and facing the sea of unread messages. 

As leaders—from team managers to top-tier executives—we don’t just bear the weight of our own tasks but also the expectations and effectiveness of those we lead. So, how can we navigate this return transition with grace and efficiency? Here are some actionable strategies:

  1. Prioritize Personal Well-being

Start your day a little early, giving that morning time solely to you and your own restoration. It could be a session of meditation, journaling, a refreshing workout, or simply savoring a cup of your favorite tea. When you prioritize self-care, you set a positive tone for the day ahead.

  1. Draft a Weekly To-Do List

As you plan your week, ease into your tasks. Differentiate between the immediate necessities and those that can wait. Set only three critical tasks for Day 1, diving into at least one before you tackle emails.  Repeat with your 3 top priorities as the only goal again for Day 2.  Done this way, by Wednesday the mountain you felt you were facing on Monday doesn’t look so high anymore.  Celebrate your progress, no matter how small.

  1. Designate Catch-up Time

Block off periods free from meetings and commitments to catch up undisturbed, especially the first hour or so in the mornings. Turn off notifications and zero in on what needs doing. Such focused time often yields higher productivity.  This is especially good to practice that can make a significant difference in how your day goes. Set your alarm to warn you 15 minutes before the time you blocked out ends so you can wrap up feeling you made solid progress.  

  1. Sync with Your Team

Once you feel grounded, organize a team or staff meeting to ensure everyone is aligned. Their support and/or knowing they are indeed on track, can provide a layer of ease and confidence you need.

  1. Cluster Tasks

Group similar tasks, such as answering emails or attending meetings, to make the most effective use of your time energy. Consider a color-coding system or other organizing methods to help you know what needs to be dealt with and what can definitely wait. When you accomplish a cluster, take a break before going back again fresh.

  1. Reschedule Where Possible

Examine your upcoming schedule – at least in the first week or so. Ask what can be responsibly postponed or canceled without inconveniencing someone else? Then do that. You’d be amazed how even freeing up one slot can offer the breathing space you crave.

  1. Evening Restoration

Dedicate time in the evening for relaxation as you assimilate. If life’s commitments seem too pressing, finding small ways to rejuvenate, even if it’s just a few minutes of mindful breathing in the coziest clothes, or a short evening walk, can be really effective and put you in a much better place for the next day.

Use this experience to prepare for future breaks by building in some buffer time before you return to the office. Creating a free day or two before diving back into work makes a huge difference in how grounded and prepared you feel when Monday comes around. It can be used to get your clothes or food together, or get a head start on sorting emails, planning, and setting priorities. If you don’t have this luxury each time, you can use time while waiting on line, on the plane, waiting to return a rental car, etc… using your Voice Memo or Notes app in your phone to jot down a to-do list, or begin establishing the top 3 priorities, decide what you will do first thing in the morning for YOU, and when you come home the first few nights… These will make a significant infusion of your work mojo upon your return.

In the ever-evolving dynamics of leadership, transitions, and returns can be daunting. But remember, with a blend of self-care, structured planning, and a dash of flexibility, you can find your footing more swiftly.

If these strategies resonate with you and you’re seeking guidance in creating a tailored plan for your transitions—or just need support navigating leadership challenges—reach out to me. Let’s transform your challenges into wins together.

Get notified of each month’s new post, as well as discounts, resources and inspiration in my monthly newsletter! JOIN HERE. My intention is that it will be one email you look forward to!

Recharge to Lead: The Undervalued Importance of Rest for Leaders

bare feet in sand at the waters edge

In a world that glorifies busyness, we often overlook the undervalued importance of rest – especially as leaders! Our society applauds the executives who burn the midnight oil, leaders who are always ‘on’, and the hard-chargers who sacrifice sleep for success. But did you know that the most effective leaders have a secret weapon? It’s rest – the antithesis of relentless hustle!

Last month I addressed the underlying burnout that is hitting everyone as we come down from the non-stop sprint through 3+ years of a global pandemic. And because we are so used to overworking in this culture anyway, it’s been hard to stop and be OK with the fact that it’s actually critical for leaders to incorporate rest.

Rest is not just the absence of work, it’s a fundamental human need, and a cornerstone for becoming a successful, balanced, and effective leader. It provides a powerful edge, allowing us to replenish our mental and emotional resources, regain focus, enhance creativity, and be more mindful in decision-making.

The Importance of Rest

When you skimp on rest, you deprive yourself of the energy and clarity needed to lead effectively. In contrast, ample rest heightens your cognitive functions, sharpens your decision-making skills, and boosts your emotional intelligence – all vital ingredients for effective leadership.

Consider this: Have you ever noticed that your best ideas often come when you’re not at work? Perhaps during a quiet morning coffee, a peaceful walk, or a rejuvenating weekend getaway. Are you nodding? It’s no coincidence. When you’re rested, your brain has a chance to wander and explore new possibilities. It has the bandwidth to think strategically and connect the dots that often get overlooked in the hustle of a regular workday.

How do you integrate rest into your leadership routine? Here are some practical strategies to consider:

Embrace Rest to Refuel

  1. Prioritize Quality Sleep: Sleep is a non-negotiable for restorative rest. Prioritize at least seven to eight hours of quality sleep per night. Remember, it’s not wasted time, but an investment in your leadership potential.
  2. Intentional Downtime: Allow yourself time to unplug from work, enjoying a hobby, exploring nature, meditating, or simply doing nothing. These replenish your energy and enable you to return to your role with renewed vigor.
  3. Regular Vacations: Make it a priority to take regular vacations (even if it’s a day trip or a short weekend) where you can completely disengage from work. By stepping away from your usual environment, you allow your mind to relax, refresh, and open up to new perspectives.
  4. Mindful Breaks: Incorporate mindful breaks into your workday. Even short pauses can help reduce stress, maintain focus, and boost your overall performance.

Rest for Powerful Leadership

Rest isn’t a luxury or an indulgence—it’s a necessity for effective leadership. It’s about acknowledging your human need for rejuvenation and taking in the benefits laid out above can make you a better leader. It’s about realizing that, to lead others well, you must first take care of yourself. The New York Times recently featured Tricia Hershey, founder of the Nap Ministry, for having spent years preaching the gospel of rest and divesting from corporate and academic pressures, suggesting you refuse to run yourself into the ground. 

By embracing rest as a crucial element of your leadership strategy, you’re not only promoting your personal well-being, but also fostering a culture that values balance. You’re leading by example, showing your team that it’s not just about working hard, but also about working smart. 

As you embark on your leadership journey, remember the importance of rest. Far from an obstacle to success, it’s a source of fuel.

Do you want to explore more about how rest can enhance your leadership potential? Are you ready to break free from the ‘always on’ culture and embrace a more balanced approach to leadership? I’d love to work with you on this journey. Contact me and let’s take this transformative step together. 

With the right balance of work and rest, you can become the effective, inspiring leader you aspire to be. 

 

8 Steps to Relieve Burnout Now

Burnout is not a dirty word! It’s a way our body, in its infinite wisdom, works to get our attention – a signal that we need to restore ourselves. But when burnt out, even taking on self-care seems like another thing to do…or worse, to feel guilty about if we don’t get to it… which only adds to the underlying sense of exhaustion and overwhelm. But it doesn’t have to be. I want to show you how to make some very realistic, small shifts to get you back to balance. Here are 8 steps to relieve burnout now!

Burnout is Trending

Before you start, we need to tackle that it’s OK to acknowledge you’re burnt out, and with good reason.There’s a lot of fallout coming to light post-Covid that’s not being talked about but is real. The world got turned upside down overnight. We scrambled to adapt – and we did, remarkably so. But leaders had to go beyond the call of duty during it all, and on the uneven reentry.  

You did your best under incredible global challenges with sustained unknowns over a prolonged period. You kept on point, using all you’ve got for the better part of the last 3 years! It’s no wonder that, now that we’re technically on the other side of it, you may be experiencing a huge level of exhaustion. And as that impacts your ability to lead, it can only add more weight on your tired shoulders. You need to help yourself to help anyone else – including your staff. So what can you do?

8 Steps to Relieve Burnout

  1. Exhaustion means you need rest – physically and mentally.  Find the courage to step away FULLY – even if only for an afternoon. And (this is key) resist being at your desk in your head! You may not do it perfectly at first, but try and keep trying. The work will be there when you get back, and you need to do this to be able to do that work. 
  2. Create some breathing room in your day (or week/month) anywhere you can. Start by giving yourself 20 minutes (even 10) to look at your schedule. Cancel what is non-essential, and reschedule what you can (If needed, make it clear you will rebook at their convenience -then be sure to do that). 
  3. Do a head dump of all you have to do – work, home/family, health. Just write it all, and get it out of your head onto paper or computer. This relieves the strain of it all ricocheting around in your head. Circle or highlight the 3 top priorities. Then allow that just for today, you only progress on those, resting easy that the rest is all safely on a page you can return to. Repeat each day this week and see how much shifts for the better!
  4. Make good use of the adage ‘better done than perfect” where applicable. You’ll find it works for more tasks than you realized and is quite freeing. 
  5. Delegate anything, no matter how small. Hire someone to handle a piece. Ask a friend to help with another. Call upon anyone in your Support Circles, which I wrote about in April’s blog. If you didn’t catch it then, I know you’ll find it extremely helpful. 
  6. Take license to give up the gym, or not do a self care item, grab take out, let laundry or the lawn wait a day or two to unburden yourself. 
  7. Taking a walk, moving your body in some way, preferably in fresh air,  to shake out mental knots. Notice how the static in your body and spirit truly shifts with movement.  
  8. Do not underestimate the transformative power of noting what IS working through the day, what bits of beauty there are to take in, and the many small and big things to be grateful for.  Part of what causes burnout is how we speed from one thing to the next without taking time to pause, breathe and reconnect ourselves to the moment. This leads to making CHOICES about what we do next rather than juggling it all, all at once –which we know is impossible to maintain.

You’ve Got This! 

The benefit from having some experience under our belt is this: we’ve been wiped out before and know this too will pass and get better. The good news is even the smallest shifts can significantly help you relieve burnout. With each step, a bit of energy and clarity will return, making it easier to make any bigger shifts needed. It can get you back to feeling like yourself again, from which you can perform at work and enjoy life so much more. That’s the ultimate priority!  This is also a great time to call upon anyone in your 

Have hope when you feel burnt out, because you have choices about how to move yourself toward it till you’re there again.  If your staff is also suffering, even if it shows in subtle ways, as you know, my mantra is to fill your own well, so you can not only have what you need to then help your staff. And  it’s powerful if they see you modeling it yourself. 

If you want support for your planning process, I am here to help. It’s easy to reach out to me for a chat and see what can happen!

Need Help? Identify Your Four Support Circles

Gold_heart_padlock_on_chain_link _fence

What do you do when you find you need help? I teach a simple way to identify your four support circles to assess who is in your corner (you may have forgotten some who you can call on!) and where you may need to build people and resources in going forward. 

When English Poet John Donne said, ‘No man is an island,’ he sure got it right! We need people, community, belonging, collaboration and sharing in many areas of our lives. We might have a solid family life, or a group of long term pals to count on, but are in need of more support at work. Maybe you have the best crew of medical docs, a great housekeeper and accountant, but could use more reconnection with friends or family. 

At work we know leadership can feel lonely.  Especially so if you don’t have someone at home who really understands all you manage on the job. You likely get pieces of what you need from a business partner, board, committees, or a networking group with whom you can share challenges and exchange ideas and solutions. But each professional relationship still requires varying levels of discretion. For more freedom, you might have a colleague who is at a level where they can relate, but are in a different field. Further, an executive life coach or therapist can provide safety that you can’t find with professional peers.

This applies to your personal life as well, but for this blog, we’ll address your personal life from the context of  how it supports you in your business life. So let’s also look at your home life, friends, and groups of outside interests. They help you have greater quality of life, spirit, health and mind – all of which fills your well – and affects your professional performance. 

THE FOUR SUPPORT CIRCLES

1. ANCHORS

The bullseye. This is the circle of intimacy which includes those closest to us, the people and/or connections whose absence would be felt deeply.  Some people would include their pets in this circle, especially if they are a primary source of companionship. 

2. ALLIES

Those good friends and close relatives who are strong connections but don’t quite make it into the first circle. These are the people we can confide in and turn to for support during times of need. 

3. ASSOCIATIONS

Those acquaintances and connections developed through participation in organizations, affiliations and activities like a spiritual group, work colleagues mentors and/or club members.  Individuals from this group may later move up to circles one and two. 

4. ASSISTANTS 

These are those paid supporters in our lives – a trusted doctor, lawyer, accountant, teacher, even your hairdresser or car mechanic would be included. 

LIST YOUR SUPPORTERS

Let’s do an exercise to better illustrate this. Draw 4 concentric circles on a piece of paper like a bullseye. Start by writing who your Anchors are in the center. Extending outward, title each of the concentric circles of support as listed above. Next, fill in the names of people who fit in each. 

You now have an easy overview. It easily helps you see where things are in good shape, and where any holes are. Now ask yourself:

  • Who is really in my corner and in what ways?
  • Are any of these levels lacking?
  • How can I deepen or strengthen the areas where I need the most support?
  • Conversely, where may I notice I have people that drain me, or take more from me than I receive?

Now, with that substantially increased awareness in mind, you can begin looking for who might fit where needed,  or for ways to cultivate the connection you have with those who are there. Be aware of the one way streets, and perhaps invest in those less. 

SUPPORT TIPS

Not everyone can be everything to us. One key is to manage our expectations. There are people who you only do specific things with – the folks with whom you may go wine tasting or kayaking, or serve with on a school committee might be perfect to share those activities, but can not be ones you reveal your struggles to.  And that’s perfectly OK. Some people come and go through time, as our interests change, if we move, as we change companies, as a byproduct of living a full life! There are those people who continue in our lives through all of it!  Seeing your big picture at any given time allows you to discern who fits within your four support circles today, or if they do not – and where if they do. This will make subtle but significant shifts in the quality of your life.

Set yourself up for success by choosing people with the right skills or traits to help fill needs in the 4 circles. Take heart that to have a handful of solid people as Anchors and Allies is enough. So aspire for quality over quantity, knowing the right fit can take a little time to find. This is a living exercise, one that will grow and change as you do!  Enjoy your Associations, and thank your stars for those Assistants who really help us thrive. 

TIP: If one or more of your four support circles are really in need, it’s an opportunity to get curious of how you may contribute to those voids, like rarely going out, or regularly saying you are too busy for a call or that coffee with a friend. You may be pleasantly surprised to see what happens if you did either or both! 

This is a rich exercise, a life-long tool to learn and use. The results are both subtle and substantial. My first Ebook will be a workbook on this topic and will be available on my website very soon. Sign up for my monthly newsletter now to hear about it first, and join me on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook for more tips and encouragement!

Save Time with More Effective Meetings

Art-Colorful-Paper-collage

Meetings. Most of us think they take too much time, but we do have to have them.  Let’s look at how you can save time by making meetings more effective.

In a month that’s the gateway to a string of holidays (and the cooking, relatives, parties, travel, relatives, parties, fundraisers, shopping, wrapping, and gifting that comes with it), there’s no better time than now to prioritize what really needs to get done and what can be cut away, then communicate that clearly to your staff.

Whether you have attended or run them, meeting formats can become like driving – so second nature sometimes you may not even remember how you got from point A to B!

Time is money but time is also precious to YOU… and staff morale. If you waste employees time on less significant matters, unclear purpose or action items, or allowing the discussion to meander off-topic, you can incur a triple loss, affecting their motivation which affects productivity, which then affects the results!

With fresh eyes, let’s review  meeting building blocks for ways you may be able to make your meetings more productive:

  • Only invite people that need to be included
  • Show up on time
  • Eliminate distractions: ie: Don’t put food out or play music hoping to make people happy at the start.
  • Minimize time lost to tech glitches by setting visual presentations or conference calls in advance. Test if you can beforehand. And know who to call in if you need tech help
  • Have not only a short agenda, but jot down down points you want to make and any people you want to recognize- then stick to that focus
  • Open with the objective of the meeting.
  • Whomever leads the meeting, set up another person to steer it back if you tend to get off track
  • When something of value warrants further discussion, suggest the key people  continue offline (and report back if needed).
  • Make sure your people know you are listening. Be present, rather than thinking of the next point. Make and hold eye contact with those contributing.  Online look right into the camera, use body language to show you’re with them.
  • Ask: “What will you need to accomplish that?” or “Who can help with this?”
  • Close with a clear summary of what’s action steps or what was achieved
  • Have good notes taken to share right after with all attendees, or in less than 24 hours. Make sure they are streamlined: key items, bulleted with clean font – anything to encourage review, and ask for feedback where relevant

Bottom line, the best tip for how to save time with more effective meetings, is about how YOU prepare! Not only will they take less time – including follow up, repeating info, minimizing glitches caused by misunderstanding (because someone fell asleep in the meeting), your staff will be happier, and more productive, and all of that will save time and money in the long run!

If you’d like to receive my monthly newsletter with timely topics, helpful resources and upcoming opportunities, SIGN UP HERE!

And when you do, you can download a FREE BONUS related to this topic: 5 Ways to Make Time Today!

 

Lead Through Anxiety

Fall leaf on grey rocks

You can lead through anxiety by identifying and managing it, and have a positive impact on your staff too. Change is inevitable, but it seems it’s everywhere and all at once these days. Elections are brewing, the workplace will be adapting pandemic precautions yet again, employees are hard to find or keep, not to mention the accelerating paradigm and communication shifts. Yet you have to show up and meet goals, solve problems, incorporate new practices without a hitch, setting the tone for all, and lead as if you know how to do this… or do you? 

And then you may be anxious as summer draws to a close… Are you feeling stressed at the thought of facing the last quarter of the year, with major work to complete? Or is it just the sensory change as the daylight grows shorter and the temperature shifts? If so, I’ve got news for you – you’re not alone.  

It’s hard to be inspiring and supportive if you are feeling like Atlas. One thing that can be a great leveler is to realize that most that you work with, whether your clients, co-workers or staff, may be feeling this too, to one degree or another.  My blogs on self care, creating more time, a better work-life balance and the tools to navigate the paradigm shifts going on in the workplace have been the most popular for a reason. 

How can you inspire others when you are struggling yourself? 

BECOME AWARE

You can’t work on something you can’t name. By becoming aware of and labeling what you are feeling or fearing, you can sort it out. That alone will take away half its power. Come at it with curiosity and a sense that relief can come from unmasking it.  This should be interesting to you, not shameful, or make you feel like failure. Far from it. 

You have enough on your plate so make it easy. Once you’ve identified a fear or stressor, Take the next 5 days to see if you can stay aware and pinpoint when it appears.  If you don’t have a lot of time, just check in midday and end of the day for a week and see what comes to light. 

TRACK IT 

Next, find a little time to write about it. When does it come up? Can you identify why? Note how it affects you physically, mentally, and/or emotionally. You can write it all out, or just put down simple phrases, even one word. Once you know what you’ve got going on, you can work on it. 

ACCEPT IT

Then accept that it’s there – and make it ok. How? Well, sometimes just seeing what’s going on lets half of the air out of the thing. It’s not so mysterious, bubbling down inside you, coloring your day, moods or performance…tiring you out. Ask: Is there a positive or gain on the flip side of any kind to refocus on?  And know that now that you know its face, you can think of strategies to deal with it. But you don’t have to do that alone. 

SHARE IT

Start by sharing with your support network. An outside perspective from someone who gets you and has your best interests in mind can relieve the strain you might not have even noticed you were carrying around. 

Don’t have that network?  It’s time to build one. Great options are to go to someone neutral, who is guaranteed to have your back – a professional coach like me, or a therapist. If you could have a conversation with an equal in the professional world (so they have the experience to get what’s going on), preferably in an entirely different field than yours so there are no consequences and you both feel free to give and take. 

A best friend or family member may or may not be on this particular team. Sometimes those too close to you might not have enough outside perspective. Or they may be great. Listen to your insides before you do, and make those choices wisely. 

RECHARGE

Anxiety can be managed. The efforts you make to do the above – becoming aware, accepting it and coming up with ways to act on it will empower you. But it’s also important to step away and recoup so you will have more when you step back. Doing that 2 step dance is the ticket. Think of other cultures where they work when they work, but take time to savor their meals, and take their days off to relax, and enjoy life. 

Recharging can come through small actions like a call with  a friend, or writing a note to a loved one ,. Take breaks at work. Fit humor into your life, get physical activity, ease up on alcohol and nicotine, and allow yourself enough rest (which needs to start rating as important as green tea or health shakes). Lastly, identify people who have interesting perspectives or approaches to things and find inspiration and ideas in their interviews, Ted talks, or audio books.

As an added bonus, all the work you do on yourself, will make you into a better leader benefiting your company, and your team.  You can even give these tools to your staff, by inviting your team to acknowledge the challenges they are facing in a safe way.  I’ll cover this topic in next month’s blog. 

If you are interested in having some additional support and encouragement, contact me and let’s talk!

Building Bonds Between Your Team – and You

Never underestimate how much value comes from building bonds between your team members – and between them and you. Having an engaged team makes for a much improved company atmosphere which in turn draws in more quality clients and future employees. Those who like their work stay longer and produce better results toward the organization’s goals.

A Gallup study of how employee engagement drives growth “confirmed that employee engagement continues to be an important predictor of company performance even in a tough economy.” What better reason than to start thinking about this and lay the groundwork for what would work well for your group! Here’s how: 

ASSESS YOUR TEAM:

First look at the big picture: Your group, time and budget. Try to pinpoint which individuals or departments may need to come together more, and for what reasons, which can help you choose what activities would be the best. 

Consider the group size. If you have a dozen or less people, see if the budget permits an outing or rewards as part of the team building, while leaving enough to do collaboration and communication activities. If you have a lot of people, then you can alter the choice of activity and locations accordingly. 

Then ask what your people need to work on. Better communication? More personal harmony? Conflict resolution? Problem solving? Or just plain bonding? This will all lay the groundwork for choosing events or activities (covered below). 

TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES 

With the goal of enhanced camaraderie, collaboration and communication in mind, pick activities your group will relate to and feel comfortable with. One thing is paramount: Fun should be the key ingredient! 

 

 

We can forget how important sharing joy and having people laugh together is!

 

Google to find fresh ideas so you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Speaking of fun, have some of it yourself while picking what fits for your people! This article from Workamajig not only lists activities, it tells you how many people are right for each and what skills it works to build. Wrike wrote up ideas for a mostly under 40 crowd, and also has ideas to team build with remote workers, which is great! Lastly, SurfOffice has a practical list of 50 activities, categorized by small teams, larger ones, and remote workers. 

TEAM BUILDING EVENTS 

If you determine your staff just needs to be rewarded or make merry to bond, you can always pick a great place for a fun-and-food-filled outing. Maybe pair people from departments that never interact, or focus on the teams that need to work better together and pick things to do that will open everyone up. One easy outing that can be enriching for all is to take everyone to hear an inspiring talk – or invite that speaker into the company – followed by a meal for all to talk about it. It could be anything from a local hero, to a Ted Talk in your area, or the author of a book on a relevant topic.

The Zoo often has unforgettable behind the scene tours. You can get special access to a lawn jazz concert, a gallery, or a museum that offers Virtual Reality exhibits. There are cooking classes with a pro chef, indoor sky diving experiences, or giving back together by doing a community project. The list of experiences really is endless.

CONNECT YOURSELF TOO

It’s also very important for you to strengthen bonds with your group too. 

You can start with organizing the team building activities as a way to bond with your employees too. Get one or two involved in helping you pick, plan and make the arrangements. Make sure to give them kudos at the event itself for their role in co-creating it. Then, join in where you can, play along, laugh together, eat, take pics to post somewhere with praise for your great team. 

Utilize any gap time in these activities to chat one on one with as many individuals as you can to learn more about each employee. But prepare a little. Because it may not be possible to connect with each, think about who might be most important to seek out. Keep it strictly social – no business. This will create a bridge you can reach across. In the next few weeks, maximize that connection by following up with a sit down for learning their goals and how you can help them reach them. Ask what they need to feel good at work, and invite suggestions on how things could work better. Then be sure to address them. This will create trust and a sense that each employee is valued and able to contribute. 

 

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

 

DON’T FORGET SWAG 

While tee shirts might seem unoriginal, it’s actually an instant bonding tool, not to be underestimated. They have a team uniform in sports, so why not in business? You can use brand colors, vary the theme by department, or, to shake it up a little, make a polo or vintage style bowling shirt instead. If you have the budget, you might spring for each to have their name on the sleeve or the breast pocket area, in a tasteful font. Or, give something everyone will remember the time by… perhaps a positive message about teamwork framed to keep on their desk. Thermal mugs or water bottles with carabiners , with a sought after name brand like Yeti, would be a huge hit. Visit Yeti to check out customization. A tangible memento adds value and makes everyone feel special. 

Forming bonds between team members will not only make them happier as individuals, but help them work better together, and give your company a competitive edge. And for you to make similar strides with individuals will go a long way to making a good team great! 

If you’d like some assistance with figuring how you could best improve your personal bonds with your staff, let’s talk

5 Tips to Build your Leadership Skills This Summer

Do you realize you can build your leadership skills this summer by relaxing, opening your senses and having fun? And with all going on in the world, if you’ve been feeling like Atlas holding everything up at work, the winning combination may be exactly what you need. 

If you are uninspired, in a rut from the push of meeting goals and deadlines, a little burnt out, or just plain unhappy, it can definitely affect your coworkers and clients.  Whatever your situation, it’s very likely it is trickling down to your staff too. What you bring in terms of energy and attitude can shift the room. As a leader, that is a powerful opportunity to change not just your own experience at work, but for all those who work with and for you! 

All it takes is saying YES to creating a shift. For that yes to work its magic in you, here are five ways to build your leadership skills this summer (and bonus: it will make the season more enjoyable for you too).

TAKE OFF

The quickest way to gain new perspective and fresh energy is to take some time off. It is summer after all, so if you have the ability to take vacation time – do. The key is to not make it all about catching up on everything you had on your home to-do list. Though that can take a weight off your shoulders and make you feel lighter, it can also be endless, as one thing leads to more. 

My suggestion is to create the space in your life to read or look at art, discover new music, or hike someplace new, – anything that will bring expansion on another level. And with it, new ideas – preferably ones that have nothing to do with your business – will come. Last month I wrote about how creativity enhances your ability to lead.  If you can’t spare a whole week off right now, try taking 2 Fridays or Mondays off this month and use that business day for the business of developing YOU. 

TUNE IN

We use our rational brain most of the time in business. But as leadership models continue to morph from the top down style of management to putting staff needs and communication first, now would be a great time to cultivate the other resources you have inside you to apply: Your inner instincts. As a starting point, you may want to reread my posts on the Three Brains of Intelligence, especially on Heart Intelligence, which is more about the person leading than it is about that professional title, and listening to your gut, which is more nuanced than girding up and having guts… You may want to check out a few articles on the topic, or see if there are audio books you can listen to while biking or gardening.

PLAN FOR CONNECTION  

Be thinking of how you can utilize August to connect with and build your team. There are many ways to do that, so devote some solitude time in a hammock or chaise to who you feel is in need and what some of the problems may be. Sketch out a list over coffee one morning, and then come back to read here in August, because that’s what next month’s blog is about. You’ll find several solid suggestions for you to get you started.  

LOOK TO FALL 

Labor Day will come all too fast, and within mere weeks, we’ll have to pull our focus back to work and life responsibilities. It’s tough to think about when summer’s in full swing, but it’s an ideal time to get a jump on Q4. For awhile there, we were unsure what we’d be met with day by day, so it’s a relief that things are getting back to the point where you can at least do some near-term forecasting again.  

Whatever your business, almost all need some kind of longer view. I marvel at the fact that whatever you even loosely write down on paper finds its way to becoming a reality. So while sitting in your pool floatie, mowing the lawn or strolling at the golden hour, let thoughts come. And/or take one morning to create a no-interruptions hour (texts silenced, email shut down, wifi off) somewhere you can have quiet and privacy (sign on the door!) to write down what comes up. After that, you’ll find new ideas or details pop up right in the middle of waterskiing, or plucking tomato suckers! Write those down too. Or speak them into your voice memo on your phone – and use the time you set to transpose it.

LEARN SOMETHING NEW

For most businesses, things slow a little during the summer. Take advantage of that to try out some new software or research something that has needed a deep dive attention. It can be finally figuring out Spotify, or how to edit your videos, or it could be to familiarize yourself with a business tool or to actually take the tutorial for the upgrade your computer just did. Total win/win!

Whatever it is that you do, the bonus here is to not bury yourself all summer. It’s been a rough couple of years. Don’t undervalue refreshing yourself and taking space for adjusting and contemplating all that’s happened, and where it has you and your role now. Self care is akin to career care. Everyone will benefit. 

I find it exciting to help people to build their leadership skills, consciousness and access to their inner wisdom as they make decisions and carve out new paths for themselves. Please Contact Me if you’d like to work with these or want different ways to grow your leadership skills this summer!

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.