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!

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.

Find Opportunity in Transition

Find Opportunity in Transition

Change is happening globally, and that’s changing each of us. But there is a way to find opportunities in transition. 

According to CNN, a record number of people quit their jobs in 2021… 68.9 million of them!  And a whopping 47.4 million of those transitions were voluntary. 

Whether you are thinking of leaving your current position or have already left (by choice or involuntarily), there are things to wade through in the transition. Change is a constant, and we need to address what’s going on inside us in order to move through these times wisely, and make authentic decisions. 

Think about how much we tie our identities to what we do, how many hours of our lives we spend at work and what the money earned or benefits allow us to do. Changes to that can bring up a lot of questions, concerns and emotions. Add a global pandemic, and all the recent news. It’s a call to evolve, and therein lies the opportunity in transition. Let’s take a look at how.

WHAT DRIVES YOU

There’s a trend in meaningfulness now – in work and your life. While we all expect to handle a reasonable level of undesirable tasks, people and situations, it’s begun to not be okay to just tolerate everything for the sake of the job anymore. Now, our drivers are shifting toward needing more purpose and fullness from our work. If this is coming up for you, are you struggling to give yourself permission to want that – or even require it?  

Motivators used to be about getting a better office, working longer hours to be recognized, or dealing with a terrible boss or a sabotaging coworker for a new title or bonus. Now we may ask ourselves very different questions like: how is work helping me be better? Can my strengths really shine here? Can this role help me make a contribution? And if I am to continue where I am, how can what I do at work matter more to me?

The answers are found in your values, how you spend your precious time, and getting clear on your priorities. The need to unpack this paradigm shift has become so prevalent, I’ve covered each in my recent blog posts. Transitions can be empowering but CHANGE is something many are not that comfortable with. Yet change is the only certainty in life. So you have some rich resources here within my blog to start with. 

Let’s look at some of the subtler feelings to address: 

DOUBT 

Whether you lost your job, are transitioning to a new one (or are thinking about it), or want to build a side hustle that could become full time, you may begin to doubt your abilities. Ask yourself if there is any legitimacy to that. Would you need to acquire new skills, and are they within reach? Are you financially able to make the leap?  If you had to move, are you the kind of person who adapts well? What strengths do you have that could carry you? Doubt can present legitimate concerns, and those can be addressed. But when doubt is dancing with your fears, take note. This is where it can really help to talk with someone to gain outside perspective. 

FEAR

Even the most confident person will have deeper thoughts about what they’re doing. “Is it too risky?” “Could I fail?” “What if I lose my health care?”  Depending on your situation, the specifics could be many, but what’s underneath it all is fear.. Addressing those questions are useful, even practical. 

Not leaving what you knew can feel safer as a devil-you-know situation.

But if your desire to leave is greater, trust that. Respect your fears rather than shove them down. They are there to help you – not to paralyze you! Get your fears out of your head and onto paper. Once you see them on a page, they become much more manageable. And it’s easier to see there  are practical ways to address each, one by one. Do this and they shouldn’t keep you up anymore!

GRIEF

Yes grief. It may not be so obvious, but there can be subtle ways grief surfaces. Again, it’s there to be honored, and worked through, because doing so will free you. Ignoring it down will not. If you feel this, you’re not alone;  it’s common when you leave a job. What can help is figuring out whether you identify with your actual occupation or with the organization you work at. If it’s the latter, you may want to see if you can work in a different sector of your company rather than depart.  

REGRET

Another thing that will help you make decisions is a regret test. Picture where you’re at, all you’re feeling and what you’d like to do. Now flash forward to an age you consider to be old. Think of how you’d feel near the end of your time to accomplish things in life if you hadn’t made the change you’re considering. Would you regret it?

Racking focus this way helps eliminate some of the nagging questions and concerns in the present, or will at least put them in perspective. 

COURAGE

Find Opportunity in Transition

All these feelings and concerns give you an opportunity to learn something new about yourself. It actually serves you to be willing to look at them, and then equally realize what strengths, skills and way of thinking you can employ to balance them. Courage is the willingness to do this honestly. 

Sometimes it’s a lot easier to process these when you have someone neutral to talk it through with, who has the training and insight to help with your best interests in mind. 

My work is to partner with you to empower yourself where fears and doubt once were. Contact me and we can talk  about reaping the rewards and wisdom available as you navigate the way forward.