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

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.

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!

The Role of Heart Intelligence in Leadership

The Role of Heart Intelligence in Leadership

Leadership. When you think of what it takes, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s education and skills, strategic planning and execution, or the ability to marshal talent and manage teams. And you’d be right… but it also takes courage, vision, empathy, and instinct. Each of those qualities come from one of three sources — the head, the heart or the gut. Those three have been called the Three Brains of Leadership.

Heart Intelligence is an essential part of leadership, especially in these challenging times. And that is more about the person leading than it is about the title. I saw this aspect emerge within my own work and that of my clients, to the point that my focus toward being a Courage Specialist came out of a clear need for it.

“Wise decisions aren’t always analytical.”

Doris Quote Testimonial

The new world that we’re quickly adapting to working within — and the future it’s taking us toward — begs for innovation, original thinking and fresh business models. And those require that we tune into the untapped resources of our heart and gut intelligence rather than solely relying on our rational, strategic brain.

In Asian Cultures, the values are that head and heart are often connected. There are even words for this. In Japanese, it’s called Kokoro; In Chinese it is xīn, where the word for heart and mind are actually one in the same!

Yet in Western society we’ve separated the head from the more instinctual heart and gut, and we’ve done so at our peril. When immersed in the responsibilities of a leadership position, it’s easy to focus on our intellectual resources and yet wise decisions aren’t always analytical. By valuing only our head we are losing access to information that would help us every day.

The awareness of this connection goes far back. Aristotle, a student of Plato and tutor to Alexander the Great, taught a ‘cardiocentric‘ model of human anatomy, where the heart was the true center of human intelligence, not the brain. In our age, science has evidence to back that up. Modern neurologists and scientists have pioneered and furthered the concept of a functional brain in the heart and the higher level of awareness available from it. From these analyses and the work of groups like the HeartMath Institute, we’ve come to know that “the heart has its own nervous system, which actually sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart.”

Really good leaders harness this Heart Intelligence and navigate from intuition with courage and conviction.

ThePerformanceSolution.com summarized this beautifully: “Without the head intelligence, the decision will not have been properly thought through and analyzed. Without the heart intelligence, there will not be sufficient values-driven emotional energy to care enough to act on or prioritize the decision against competing pressures. Without the gut intelligence there will not be sufficient attention to managing risks nor enough willpower to mobilize and execute the decision once challenges arise.”  

In today’s world, especially when you have to make critical decisions, having the ability to access all the three modes is key. It requires a whole new level of self-awareness and self-facilitation. One of the precepts of my work is about reawakening your heart and gut and connecting them to your head. I find helping people to access wisdom and grow their consciousness as they make decisions and carve out new paths for themselves exciting!

If this resonates with you, let’s connect and learn how we can work together on your specific path.

This is the first in a continuing series on this fascinating, cutting-edge topic. Keep an eye out right here for the next post — or sign on to my mailing list to be notified about them, my workshops and more!

This is the first of a three part series on Intelligence to raise awareness of all – from the heart, gut and head. They all work together, and this series is to help you realize you may have only been aware of, or using, using one. My goal is to help you be aware of them all, how you can access each, and work toward balancing how you switch between them based on what kind of wisdom and courage you need to access at any given moment in your endeavors.