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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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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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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When to Ask vs. When to Tell as a Leader

By | Coaching, Communication, Leadership, Pivot Point, Talent Retention | No Comments

One of the many conundrums of leadership is knowing when to tell versus knowing when to ask an employee to come up with their own idea and/or solution.  How often are leaders drug into problem solving situations or idea generation brainstorms and expected to have all the answers.  That must be exhausting as a leader to feel like you have to have all the answers all the time.  It’s just not possible.  The best leaders ask questions.  Yet, sometimes the team legitimately does not know the answer either.  It’s no fun as a leader to ask the same question the team had expected you to answer, and receive confused faces in return.  That’s embarrassing.

The art of knowing when to ask versus tell is a lesson I learned early in my leadership journey.  Here’s my story.

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How to Lead a Team Meeting People WANT to Go To

By | Communication, Conflict Resolution, Leadership, Pivot Point, Team Building | One Comment

I rarely encounter a leader that shares, “our team meetings are so engaging that people look forward to them.”  It just doesn’t happen, and if it does, it is not consistent.  Meetings are one of the most dreaded words in most businesses.  People rarely say the word “meeting” with a smile on their face.  That’s because meetings have proliferated and now dominate our lives and our calendars, consuming far too much of our time.  If you ask successful people for advice, they often will share that they are very intentional with their time, choosing who and what to meet about in person vs. other forms of communication, or to meet at all.

Most meetings could be replaced with another form of communication

This is why meetings are frustrating.  They feel like a waste of time because they are.  Clients I work with are now replacing many of their meetings with emails or communication hubs through an app, their company websites, or private social media platforms.  Things like policy updates, reminders, or presented information can much more easily be digested independently than in a team meeting.  If you plan to talk at people about slides that have all the information on them already, try sending it to the team as a pre-read, and open the meeting with what questions they have about the information.  The team is empowered to learn on their own time, and there is still a safe place to field questions rather than a boring talk at you meeting.  People want a dialogue, and the pre-read goes a long way to freeing up the time to engage the audience and ask questions.

So, how do you facilitate a meeting that people want to go to?

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How to Lead with Influence

By | Career Game Plan, Coaching, Communication, Leadership, Pivot Point | One Comment

Leading with power is outdated.  The old mantra, “tell them what to do,” and “put your head down and work,” is just not all that inspiring anymore, if it ever was.  As the workforce shifts, and millennials become the overwhelming 75% majority by 2025, they are changing the way we look at leaders.  Rather than looking up to them, and following quietly behind them, this generation is asking to be heard, and are willing to go above and beyond when a leader aligns their work with their natural talents and motivations.  Work with purpose is not just a nice to have anymore, employees are demanding it.  Otherwise, they fall into the 70% of our workforce that is not engaged, and they usually choose to change jobs as result.  At a minimum, less engaged employees are just not as productive, produce far more quality errors, and have more safety incidents.  All of which cost our economy a staggering estimated $400B annually.

So, what does it take to lead with influence?

Tell stories

Leaders that engage their team with “I remember a time when…” or “That reminds me of a situation when a team member…” to share their experiences are far more successful.  Stories give our audience context.  Plus, stories stick in our minds 20x more than just mere facts and figures.  Our brains are wired to connect stories with our own experiences, and the brain files it away in an area that is easier to recall later.  When a similar situation or person surfaces later in our lives, we recall the story, and can more easily apply lessons learned.

So how do you tell a good story?

It’s a simple recipe. The open, climax, and close matter.  Remember 8th grade English class?  The typical story starts of setting the scene with some imagery and character development, then builds up to a climax where the characters transform, or the situation changes, and then there is a resolution that wraps up the story in a nice bow.  A good resolution contains some lessons learned and tips for situations like this in the future.

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How to Choose Words that Create Positive Impact

By | Coaching, Communication, Confidence, Pivot Point, Positive Thinking | One Comment

Our brain is listening to what we say

That’s why it is critical that we choose the words that impact our brains positively.  Our dialogue – both internal and external – has a profound impact on what our brain subconsciously decides to take seriously.  When we say to ourselves – “I can do it” or “I will try” – our brain sees through our lack of commitment.  The brain interprets this information as not genuine.  Our brain then chooses to focus on other areas where there is an authentic belief.  The brain is constantly preserving its energy, and chooses to save that energy for things that instinctively matter to our survival.  By choosing to use limiting, or even worse, negative words, we keep our brain parked in survival mode.  When we choose to use positive, forward-focused, genuine words, our brain slowly moves into neutral, then hits high gear when we reinforce it over time.

Trust me, before coaching, I did not take the brain seriously.  I had painful flashbacks to psychology 101 brain anatomy and physiology, memorizing useless facts.  It just did not interest me.  Now, having achieved my Master Coach certification, ravaged books on the brain, and having been a part of numerous coaching successes where self-talk mattered, I am a believer.  By simply tweaking the words we use, we achieve far more.

Our brain is primitive

We’re only a few hundred years from our more primitive days (in most parts of the world), and our brain just has not caught up with the more complex, yet easier to survive world we live in today.  Considering the time humans have been existence, the time of survival mode has dominated our existence.  For that reason, our brain still sees two choices – fight or flight – both emotional reactions vs. a more rational response.  Our brains have not evolved at the same pace as our evolution.  We still imagine new scenarios as opportunities to meet a predator, when that is unlikely in today’s world.  In a meeting with a customer, peer, or manager, we fear the worst.  And, we limit our own abilities with negative self-talk that limits the outcomes possible from the discussion.  Our brains are wired to fear the worst possible scenario, and actively prepare to escape or fight at the first sign of danger.  Yet, running out of a meeting is not likely helpful.

So, how do we re-wire our brains?

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How to Ask for What You Want

By | Career Game Plan, Communication, Confidence, Leadership, Positive Thinking | One Comment

My college English composition teacher, Dr. Denny, was one of my favorite teachers of all time.  He was in his late 30’s, wore bow-ties and acetic sports coats, and said exactly what he thought.  Our class was 7:30am Monday mornings.  Instead of dreading the early morning hike across campus, I looked forward to it.  As a strong writer, I could have believed that I would breeze through his class just as I did virtually all my high school English classes.  Instead, I chose to let myself be challenged by him.  He made a profound difference in my life and my ability to communicate with intention.

One of the most impactful tools he taught us was how to write a good argument.  The recipe went something like this – claim, evidence, resolution:

  • The claim was essentially our point of view – more than just a mere fact – it was an insight into what we thought a set of facts or data points meant
  • The evidence was the fact, data, or quote that illustrated the claim – it logically conveyed that the claim was indeed true – the proof
  • The resolution tied it all together in a nice package – telling the audience that I told you so – reiterating the claim had been proven

I remember learning so much that quarter about how to write persuasively.  And, an even bigger life lesson – have a clear purpose every time you communicate.  As humans, we do things for a reason.  We have a purpose, and being clear about that purpose when we communicate separates us from others.  The application of Dr. Denny’s communication framework – claim, evidence, resolution – transcends far beyond a college essay – I have used this structure throughout my career.

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