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!

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!

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.