Retaining Women Leaders

By | Career Game Plan, Coaching, Gender Equality, Leadership, Talent Retention, Training | No Comments

We’ve been writing and sharing data that continuously supports that when organizations have more women in senior leadership positions and on corporate boards, performance increases.  Yet, as organizations are initiating women’s groups, diversity officers, and inclusion initiatives, the numbers of women at the top continue to stagnate.  In my research for our new book, ONE:  How Men Partner with Women for Gender Equality, I found that strong women leaders often have access to sponsors and mentors, and many of them are men.  These women leaders believe strongly in the purpose of their work, and the positive impact it has.  We also found another pillar focused on coaching.  Managers of strong women leaders coach them, provide real-time feedback and help her be her best possible self.  They do not solve her problem for her, they help her self-discover her own plan forward.

To increase gender equality at the highest levels of organizations, we must engage women in other ways.  In this post, you will learn proven strategies from our research that outlines these three pillars.  To retain top female talent, leaders focus on:

  • Improving access to sponsors and mentors
  • Aligning their value and purpose with their work
  • Coaching women to success

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Pivotal Journeys: Stories that Will Inspire You Part Two

By | Career Game Plan, Coaching, Communication, Confidence, Goal Setting, Leadership, Pivot Point | No Comments

At our pivot points, women I coach often are asking, “what’s next?”  I call this a pivotal journey.  While the answers are often inside ourselves, we may not have the confidence, risk appetite, or belief that we even know what we want.  In our last blog post, we shared the story of Ashli and her pivotal journey asking for what she wanted.  This post features Carrie, and this story brings tears to my eyes every time I share it.  It is another great example that illustrate that we do know what we want when we prioritize the time to reflect and give ourselves space to self-discover.  Also, it is our choice to believe in ourselves and fuel our confidence to take the risk and make the change.

Similar to Ashli’s story from last time, Carrie was also at a cross roads personally and professionally.  She took time to reflect on her true passions and purpose and renewed a love of running marathons.  Once she knew what she wanted, she prioritized her passion.  Here’s Carrie’s story…

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What I Learned from My Zip Line Experience About Self-Leadership

By | Coaching, Leadership, Pivot Point, Positive Thinking, Self-Care | No Comments

Last week, we took a family road trip out to Yellowstone, something I have dreamed about doing since I was a little girl.  It lived up to the hype.  When you spend 10 days in a car with your family and drive more than 4,000 miles together across the country, you learn a lot about yourself as a human and a leader.

We tried new things like white water rafting and intense hiking down canyons and hot springs.  My favorite experience was the zip line.  I have a fear of heights, and while this was not my idea of fun, it was the family favorite.

Here is what I learned from this scary, yet successful experience:

Fear is a mindset.  Terrified of heights, being up 100 feet in the air on a swaying platform is my worst nightmare.  At first, I hugged the middle pole and gripped my harness tightly, fearing the worst.  Yet, once I was able to look around and see the beautiful surroundings and my smiling family, I was able to release the fear.  Most people fear public speaking.  As a speaker, I have overcome that fear, yet heights continue to be my nemesis.  Releasing the fear and embracing the positives is a choice.  It is a mindset, even if just for a few hours.  I could have chosen to be miserable and let fear take over.  Instead, I parked the fear and chose to embrace the experience.  While I am still not a fan of heights, this small win helped me understand the power I had within.

Early success and failure is good.  Our first run was smooth and easy.  I was able to get my feet wet and release the fear.  I was proud of my semi-smooth landing and ability to relax and enjoy the views.  The second run was not smooth.  I actually missed the rope to pull myself back onto the platform and slid back along the wire into the valley, stopped hundreds of feet above the ground all by myself.  Our guide had to tow me in.  I was so happy to be on that shaky platform again.  While it was important to have an early win, the early failure helped me more.  It helped me realize that if that was the worst that could happen, I had nothing to fear.  The early successes and failures helped me manage my emotions and build confidence in the subsequent runs.

New experiences broaden your thinking.  I loved meeting people out West so different than those in the Midwest where I call home.  Our guides lived in vans on the river all summer and entertained us with their wisdom and stories.  When you put yourself out there and do something you have not done before, you stretch your mind and open yourself up to more new experiences longer term.  I normally would have declined offers to do anything heights related, yet this experience will make me think the next time before saying no.  Our brains are wired to routine thinking.  By pushing ourselves to embrace new experiences, our brains create new pathways to other parts of our brains that enable better creative thinking and problem solving.

I got out of my comfort zone, and took some much deserved me time this summer.  This investment in myself, my family, and my health will refuel my energy for the rest of 2017.  And I need the energy.  I am excited that we have a new book on #maleallies and #genderequality coming this fall, and we are thrilled at the lineup of amazing speaking engagements and workshops with #womeninleadership.  If you have not taken some time off for yourself and/or family, do it.  Women that #practiceselfcare are more successful.  We have to fill our tanks first before we are able to fill the tanks of others around us.

Pivotal Journeys: Stories that Will Inspire You Part One

By | Career Game Plan, Coaching, Communication, Confidence, Goal Setting, Leadership, Pivot Point | No Comments

At our pivot points, women I coach often are asking, “what’s next?”  I call this a pivotal journey.  While the answers are often inside ourselves, we may not have the confidence, risk appetite, or belief that we even know what we want.  In our next two blog posts, I wanted to share everyday stories of women doing remarkable things.  When these women shared these stories, it brought tears to my eyes.  They are great examples that illustrate that we do know what we want when we prioritize the time to reflect and give ourselves space to self-discover.  Also, it is our choice to believe in ourselves and fuel our confidence to take the risk and make the change.

In this story, Ashli took a risk and asked for what she wanted.  Through our discussions, she took time to reflect on key questions:

  • What are the tasks/goals that get you most excited? (will)
  • What are the tasks/goals that you are doing on your very best days? (will)
  • What are the tasks/goals that people continuously praise you for? (skill)
  • What are the tasks/goals that you seem to be most effective at? (skill)
  • Who are the people that are most important to you in your life? (skill/will)

Once she knew what she wanted, she was more confident in asking for it.  Here’s Ashli’s story…

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Leading Across Generations

By | Coaching, Communication, Diversity, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Pivot Point, Team Building, Training | No Comments

Research indicates that Millennials will be 75% of our workforce by 2025, and with this, organizations are struggling to engage top talent across generations.  Often, with leaders I coach, they ask, “how can we change the millennials to be more motivated, and less entitled?” to which I respond, “they are far less likely to change for us; they are far more likely to change us.”  There are so many wonderful traits this next generation brings to the workforce:  a genuine passion for making a positive impact on the world, a desire to work to live rather than live to work, and an uncanny ability to find solutions to complex problems.  Yet, there are some distinct behaviors and expectations that do not always align with organizational values and processes.

The Pew Research Center outlines generations by birth year range as follows:

  • Millennials: 1981-1997
  • Generation X: 1965 to 1980
  • Baby Boomers: 1946 to 1964

Much attention has been placed on Baby Boomer and Millennial alignment, as they represent two ends of the spectrum, and have the most differences between them.  However, Generation X is the next generation of leaders, and represents the majority of small business owners.  They are a force to be reckoned with as well, yet often blend in with the Baby Boomers or identify with the Millennials as the pendulum swings.  Humorously, at a conference I was at recently, the speaker talked about Generation X being overwhelmed by the Baby Boomers.  Due to their sheer size, Baby Boomers made Generation X into mini Baby Boomers.  Partially true, Generation X seems to be amicable and the most flexible to each of the other larger generations.

In order to effectively lead an organization today, leaders must inspire and engage across all generations.  In this post, you will learn:

  • Understanding how “coming of age” experiences shape generations
  • Learning how to “flex” your leadership style to meet the needs of each generation
  • Aligning cultural values consistent with generational expectations

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Appreciate Others that are NOT Like You

By | Coaching, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Diversity | No Comments

So, I had this epiphany when I was a young adult.  I was in college and it was freshman year, and it was my first time living away from home.  My roommate, also one of my best friends from high school, and I were getting into our first argument.  She informed me that, to my shock, “not everyone was like me.”  I thank Amy for this assertive statement, and recall that memory fondly as a great moment of self-awareness.

My roommate, Amy, and I had completely different personalities.  While we had so much in common in our passions and interests, we could not have been further apart on our communication styles.  As a results-oriented, direct communicator, I could not believe Amy would need time process her thoughts before sharing, and often thought of the impact on others before thinking of herself.  She’s the steady one; I am the bold one.  Still to this day, our differences are felt, and I am thankful to have someone to balance me out that knows me so well, and accepts me for who I am, even if our priorities are completely different.

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What I Wish I Had Known Before Starting my Own Business

By | Career Game Plan, Coaching, Goal Setting, Leadership, Pivot Point | 2 Comments

As my two-year anniversary of starting my own business passed, I took some time to reflect on what I learned.  Having done the b-school thing, and the corporate gigs in a variety of industries and functional areas, the last two years have far surpassed any learning in the classroom or on the job.Being your own boss is hard.  Giving yourself a day off, or a weekend for that matter, is a challenge.  Dealing with the major swings in demand and revenue can be frustrating.  Yet, I would not trade this experience for the world.  It’s taught my daughters that women can do it anything they truly set their minds too, it’s made my relationship with my husband stronger (we now work together), share my passion with my family (my niece also supports the business), and it has helped me fuel my real calling for women’s leadership.

I get to go to work now, I no longer have to go.

I meet countless people that think that they want to start their own businesses, and they often believe it is not possible.  If you are one of those people with a great idea, but lacking the courage to make it happen, then this blog is for you.  The frequently asked questions here are a culmination of what I am asked most often in one-on-one discussions with clients and aspiring entrepreneurs.

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Model the Change You Want to See

By | Coaching, Communication, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Team Building, Training | No Comments

In my collaboration with women in leadership, I find that we wrestle with our own tough expectations, and projecting those expectations on others.  We often ask the rhetorical question – why can’t this person just change?  It could be an attitude tweak, an adjustment in initiative, or improving communication skills.  It doesn’t matter.  But the change needs to start with us.

Change is hard.  People do not change for us.  We can only change ourselves.  We cannot want it for the other person, even if we see that just a few small tweaks would improve their happiness and job performance significantly.  Instead of asking or expecting someone to miraculously change – improve their attitude, take more initiative, or listen more to our ideas.  Instead, ask “what could I do differently?”  As leaders, we have to show the team what good looks like.

It Starts With the Leader

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Women’s Wellness Strategies

By | Career Game Plan, Coaching, Confidence, Leadership, Pivot Point, Training | No Comments

At Pivot Point, we believe that wellness is defined as our ability to make conscious choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life.  Based on our research with every day women leaders and women in business, we have summarized our findings for women looking for ideas for their own personal wellness plans.

After copious research, and dozens of workshops with women leaders focused on their personal wellness, we believe that there are three key areas to improving your personal wellness plan, and it all starts with your purpose.  First, start with:

1) Knowing your why (and saying no to things not aligned with your why)

2) Then, giving to others through compassion (giving to give)

3) Followed by, prioritizing sleep (yes, sleep)

Let’s start with your WHY by asking yourself these questions…

  • What are the tasks/goals that get you most excited?
  • What are the tasks/goals that you are doing on your very best days?
  • What are the tasks/goals that people continuously praise you for?
  • What are the tasks/goals that you seem to be most effective at?
  • Who are the people that are most important to you in your life?

You may be asking, what does this have to do with wellness?  I have found in my work with women, that our choices must be aligned with our personal wellness.  We cannot be happy if we are busy trying to make everyone else happy around us.

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Recognize What You Want to See Again

By | Coaching, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Pivot Point, Team Building, Training | No Comments

 One of the most important tasks as a leader is to motivate their team.  Different team members are motivated by different things.  Some like public recognition, others prefer private praise, and some need it more, and some need it less.  As humans, I would argue that nearly all of us enjoy some form of recognition.  And, it’s one of the least expensive forms of motivation.  It does not even need to cost us a dime when tailored to the individual and done genuinely.

Leaders I coach often question, “I am supposed to recognize someone for doing their job?  I do my job every day and no one recognizes me.”  The answers is yes.  As leaders, we have to take the high road.  This means that we need to prioritize the time to give people positive feedback.  And, if we invest the time, studies show that team member performance increases.

What we choose to focus on matters.  When recognized, team members are more likely to repeat these behaviors, leading to better business results associated with these positive behaviors like increased client satisfaction, productivity, and/or quality of work.

Some tangible strategies to improve your culture of recognition as a leader are:

  • Kudos boards
  • Start meetings with “tell me something good”
  • Real time recognition

Kudos boards

A simple tool to build team morale – a visual display of all the great things the team is doing as a reminder of what good looks like.  This can be done in a variety of ways – a bulletin board in a break room or common area with post-it notes to recognize freely in the moment, a recognition box where team members can privately share their praise and leaders can display with employee approval later, or a client appreciation area with testimonials showcasing great client service.  I have seen it done well in various formats.  The key is getting buy-in from the team on how they want to be recognized, and tailoring the kudos board to their preferred format of recognition.  If they are a part of the idea to start, team members are far more likely to engage with the program and participate.

Each team is different, and their recognition needs are different too.

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