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gender equality, gender equality in business, gender equality in the workplace, diversity at work, diversity employment, diversity and inclusion, women in leadership

Asking What’s Next in Your Career?

By | Career Game Plan, Coaching, Communication, Confidence, Emotional Intelligence, Gender Equality, Goal Setting, Leadership, Pivot Point, Positive Thinking, Talent Retention, Team Building, Training | No Comments

This daunting question seems to smack us in the face every few years.  We want to be better and get better, and often find ourselves stuck wondering, what’s next?  Having honed my craft through three plus years, supporting 100+ women through their successful pivot points, I wanted to share our lessons learned.

What your past tells you about your future

My favorite read on career transition (other than Pivot PointJ) is Now What by Laura Berman Fortgang.  She offers success stories, tools, and practical exercises to navigate your “what’s next” moment.  In fact, I have all of my career transition clients read it and do the life history exercise.  The life history exercise often reveals nuggets and themes from the past.

Try it yourself by:

  1. Writing down all major life experiences by age ranges (newborn – child, child – teenager, teenager to young adult, young adult to 20’s, 30’s, and so on…)
  2. Then, reflecting on how each event made you feel, document a succinct and bullet-pointed list with the event and the emotion
  3. Circling the overlapping themes and feelings
  4. Reviewing with peers, family, mentors, and coaches

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gender equality in the workplace, training leaders, male allies, leadership training

Work-Life Management: Practice Self-Care

By | Communication, Delegation, Diversity, Emotional Intelligence, Gender Equality, Leadership, Positive Thinking, Self-Care | No Comments

Work-life balance is impossible.  While women leaders and male allies want to achieve perfect balance between work and life, our research has found that this is not a realistic expectation for working families.  The two spheres live in conflict, where work may dominate one week, and life (family, caretaking, and self-care) may dominate the next.  It’s more like a teeter totter than a perfect balance beam.

In our work with women’s leadership groups, our survey data revealed the top challenge for the overwhelming majority of members is balancing work and life.  Digging into the facts, it is understandable that this challenge largely falls on women.

  • Women still spend more time on household labor averaging 2 hours and 15 minutes per day, while men average 1 hour and 25 minutes per day (a ratio of 62/38 women to men).
  • From 1997-2015, the number of businesses increased by 51%. Of that increase, 74% of the companies are women owned.
  • 24 million females in the U.S. care for others 25+ hours/week. In fact, they leave the workforce on average 12 years to care for children and relatives.

This illuminates the need for work-life integration for women leaders and families with dual careers.  When women feel trapped in jobs without flexibility, they self-select out of rigid corporate America.  If your organization is not engaging these women leaders, they are likely losing them.  These are smart, talented people who could bring tremendous value to our economy and to organizations, yet we accept – and even encourage – opting-out of their careers.  We make assumptions about the preference to be at home or need to be with the children, whereas the same assumptions are not often applied to working men.

With the challenge of managing work and life, women leaders tend to put themselves last.  This is why we have a section in our new book ONE:  How Men and Women Partner for Gender Equality (get your copy here) dedicated to practicing self-care.

Saying “Yes” to yourself is hard.  Rather than saying “Yes” to everyone else, choose to say “Yes” to the right things.  Remind yourself that you are saying “No” to a lot of things when you say “Yes” to the wrong things.  For women looking to practice self-care, we share these strategies from ONE:

  • Outsource activities you do not have the skill or will to do. For example, we hired a housekeeper to clean our house once a month, and have enjoyed the ROI of having more time with my family, and more energy and time to do the really important things professionally and personally.
  • Say no to FOMO (fear of missing out). Prioritize what is important for you to be happy, overcoming the fear of missing out on the wrong things.  Social media is a big influence here. Before you say “Yes,” remember it means “No” for something else that may be important.  Do say “No” if something does not drive your happiness.
  • Get more sleep. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night.  Unless you have a genetic mutation, this means you.  Very few women we coach get the required seven hours of sleep per night, which is dangerous for their health.
  • Implement the 80/20 rule. Make sure 80% of your energy is aligned with your “why”.  Twenty percent is for the other stuff (routine tasks, things only you can do, etc.).
  • Show compassion for others. Find everyday-ways to genuinely, meaningfully help others.  Giving fuels our energy.
  • Practice gratitude. Journal what you are grateful for each day.  Intentionally choose to focus on what is good in your life.
  • Have a plan. If you do not know what you want and where you’re going, you will fall victim to others deciding for you.

Remember that women leaders that practice self-care, manage their work and life more successfully.  They have more energy to give to others, and are more likely to achieve career success and be happy personally as well.

We believe strongly in our message to spread male allyship and develop women leaders.  If you do too, share our mantra below or post your stories and thoughts with these hashtags:  #genderequality #ONE #heforshe #maleallies #femaleadvocacy.

Our Mantra

I believe in gender equality.  I believe women and men, partnering together for gender equality, is what is best for all humans.  By collaborating together, we will improve the lives of future women leaders and girls who will grow up in a world where anything is possible.  My voice matters.  I make choices every day supporting gender equality.  We are all in this together.  I commit to supporting male allyship.  We are stronger together.  We are ONE.

gender equality in the workplace, training leaders, male allies, leadership training

Negotiation: Ask for What You Want

By | Communication, Confidence, Conflict Resolution, Diversity, Gender Equality, Leadership, Positive Thinking | No Comments

Research shows that men are four times more likely to negotiate than a woman.  Women leaders do not speak up and ask for what they want, especially if it feels selfish.  Yet, women are more successful negotiators than men when negotiating on someone else’s behalf.  We have the skill, just lack the will.  This is why we have a section in our new book ONE:  How Men and Women Partner for Gender Equality (get your copy here) dedicated to speaking up.

For women looking to strengthen your negotiation skills, practice:

  • Channeling your purpose and passion
  • Opening the discussion from a place of positive intent and common ground
  • Aligning your ask with your audience’s wants to find win-win solutions

Channeling your purpose and passion

Humans are wired emotionally.  We are far more likely to take action based on a strong purpose or “why” than the tactical “what” or “how.”  Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why, articulates this beautifully with proven research.  That means that when we decide to negotiate, knowing why we want what we want is pivotal.  And, when we share our ask with conviction, passion, and confidence, our audience is more likely to respond positively.

Preparation pays off.  Thinking about what you want, why you want it, and how it will work is key.  We encourage women leaders to document their negotiation plan.  Outline the what, why, and how, focusing on your unique purpose and passions.

Choose your battles.  Ask for what you want that align most with your purpose and passion areas.  We may get finite chances to ask for it, so it is important to be strategic and focus on what you truly want vs. nice to haves.  Reflect on this question, what is one thing that will have the greatest impact on me (personally, professionally, etc.)?  That’s your winner.

Opening the discussion from a place of positive intent and common ground

Establishing common ground early in a discussion is important.  With our plan in hand outlining our what, why, and how, we’re armed and ready to initiate a dialogue.  Once we have stated our ask, pause and take a breath, and ask our audience, “what do you think?”  Such a simple, yet powerful question.  When we ask the question early, we involve the audience in the discussion and facilitate a brainstorm collaboration vs. the oppositional “what I want” vs. “what you want” unproductive conversation ping-pong.  This establishes common ground based on both parties’ interests.

Positive intent is a game changer.  Assume your audience has positive intentions, just as you do.  Most people are good people.  That means they want to help us.  By putting yourself out there with your ask, you have demonstrated vulnerability, and most people respond by mirroring that vulnerability.  If you are communicating with the decision maker, assume that they are aligned.  They just need to understand the what, why, and how of your ask to get there.

Aligning your ask with your audience’s wants to find win-win solutions

Remember that you have likely been thinking about your ask much longer than the party you are speaking with.  This may be the first time they have thought about it.  To facilitate their thinking, ask lots of open-ended questions.  Powerful questions start with “what” and “how,” or my personal favorite “tell me more.”  Good negotiators listen more than they speak.  They take copious notes and have already anticipated what their audience may want too, or what their questions will be.

In your preparation plan, make sure to brainstorm areas of alignment.  Where are the places you both win.  Offering up something that helps your audience early encourages them to engage and support you.  Emphasizing commonality vs. differences bridges the gap in perceptions.  Be sure to give your audience space and time to think too.  Once you have articulated the what, why, and how, and asked at least three questions, it’s okay to back off.  Do be sure to schedule a follow up time to talk, or ask for the expectation of decision making time frame.  There is nothing worse than having the tough talk, and then nothing happening.  It’s your job to follow up.

My women’s leadership crush

I had the thrill of meeting one of women’s leadership crushes last month at a conference.  I actually spoke after her, which was surreal.

Linda Babcock, author of Ask for It, taught us a simple four step process to practice to be better negotiators.  It reinforces this approach.  Above all, practicing the negotiation conversation is critical for success.  When we practice, we have a vision of success during the real discussion.  We’re far more likely to be confident when prepared.

Her steps include these phases:

  1. Identify what you want
  2. Make a plan
  3. Get ready strategically
  4. Get ready psychologically

We believe strongly in our message to spread male allyship and develop women leaders.  If you do too, share our mantra below or post your stories and thoughts with these hashtags:  #genderequality #ONE #heforshe #maleallies #femaleadvocacy.

Our Mantra

I believe in gender equality.  I believe women and men, partnering together for gender equality, is what is best for all humans.  By collaborating together, we will improve the lives of future women leaders and girls who will grow up in a world where anything is possible.  My voice matters.  I make choices every day supporting gender equality.  We are all in this together.  I commit to supporting male allyship.  We are stronger together.  We are ONE.


gender equality in the workplace, training leaders, male allies, leadership training

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.

gender equality in the workplace, training leaders, male allies, leadership training

Positive Affirmations that Work at Work

By | Coaching, Confidence, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Positive Thinking | No Comments

“I am good enough.  I am smart enough, and dog gone it, people like me!” 

Unfortunately for many leaders, the word “affirmations” conjures up memories of the Stuart Smalley segment on Saturday Night Live.  Although, Stuart proclaims these statements, you get the sense that he does not truly believe them, coming across as generic and lacking confidence.  While hilarious, positive psychology has advanced light years since this segment’s popular days in the 1990’s.  Over the last 20+ years, much improved information on our brain’s ability to internalize what we choose to tell it has yielded some impressive research and outcomes.

Positive thinking is not just a fad, it’s a must have for today’s leader.  It is one of the best tools to manage conflict, to coach employees to success, and to solve today’s complex business problems.

The leaders I coach often share these tools and techniques to improve their own positive thinking skills:

  • Power posing
  • “Will” and “am” statements
  • Visualization

Power posing

With nearly 40 million views, Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk outlines some proven ways to bolster confidence through body positioning.  By positioning our bodies to be bigger outwardly, rather than inward, our stress hormone, cortisol decreases, and our testosterone levels increase.  Although her research has been difficult to replicate, I personally believe wholeheartedly in it.  For me, when I have felt overwhelmed, or did something for the first time, or lacked confidence thinking someone else was better than me, I have power posed with positive affirmations, and felt a calmness and confidence wash over me.

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gender equality in the workplace, training leaders, male allies, leadership training

Manage Conflict: Demand Debate

By | Coaching, Conflict Resolution, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Positive Thinking, Team Building | No Comments

Who enjoys the “tough talk” with a peer, team, or direct report?  Chances are, it’s a dreaded conversation.  Perhaps even one that is procrastinated, hoping the conflict will just go away.

Yet, often I find with leaders, that when they have the “tough talk,” it goes far better than expected, and it results in a better relationship with the person.  Let’s discuss some of proven strategies I have found in my research and work with leaders.

Leaders that manage conflict successfully do so by:

1) Demanding debate (in a healthy way)

2) Holding the team accountable through ground rules

3) Building a culture based on trust

Demanding debate (in a healthy way)

On a high performing team, people often look at conflict as healthy.  We’re human, it’s bound to surface.  The key difference is that high performing teams deal with it proactively.  They have the discussion it in the moment, or close to the time of the conflict and clear the air.  They do not fear it, they welcome it as a chance to be better.

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gender equality in the workplace, training leaders, male allies, leadership training

Replace Feedback with Guidance, and You Will Get Better Results

By | Coaching, Conflict Resolution, Leadership, Positive Thinking, Talent Retention, Team Building, Training | No Comments

The word feedback creates fear.  It creates a feeling in the pit of our stomachs, followed by an overly emotional anxiety.  Merely hearing the word makes it hard to hear the words that follow.

Imagine this scenario, someone pulls you aside, and asks, “Can I give you some feedback?”  Fear takes over, you assume it to be negative, and you instantly imagine the worst case scenario.  That is because the word feedback has been framed so poorly in the past.  It has created negative perceptions based on the experiences that our brain remembers.  Our brain recalls the pattern of negative feedback, and prepares our body with fight or flight mode to take cover or run away.  Our emotions take over.  That doesn’t bode well for solid decision making and behavior.

The words we use matter.  So, let’s try a different word – guidance.  I have been searching for a better word than feedback for years – words like feed-forward, insight, coaching – have been floated out there in the coaching community, yet none have felt genuine or appropriate.  Then, a mentor of mine shared an article with me about a concept called “radical candor.”  What struck me most about the concept was the use of the word guidance over feedback.

Consider this, rather than saying “Can I give you some feedback,” why not open with, “I’ve got some guidance for you…”  It’s softer, it frames the moment appropriately, and emphasizes positive intent.  The word guidance ensures that the audience is still listening, and not emotionally hijacked and paralyzed with fear.  Furthermore, effective guidance requires leaders to:

  • Deliver it real-time
  • Assume positive intent
  • Be clear about the behaviors rather than the person

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gender equality in the workplace, training leaders, male allies, leadership training

Delegating to Empower Others

By | Coaching, Delegation, Leadership, Positive Thinking, Team Building, Training | No Comments

Delegation, a skill that seems insurmountable as a leader, yet is essential for a leader to manage time effectively.  I often remind leaders in my workshops that the leader’s labor costs are likely the highest of the team.  As a leader, we are paid higher wages for doing the tough stuff, and so doing lower skilled work that someone else on our team could do is a problem.  We’re incurring more costs than we should.  And, even if it is not actual dollars in costs, it certainly is an opportunity cost.

Time is Money

You might be thinking, well I will just work more hours then.  As we learned in our time management blog, time is finite.  If you choose to say “yes” to something, you are saying “no” to something else.  We only have so much time, and how we choose to spend it sends major signals to our team on what is important.  They pick up on the tasks, projects, and meetings that we prioritize or choose to do ourselves.  It alerts them that these things must be important for a leader to do themself.  They may even feel less engaged as a result of you not asking or trusting them to do it instead.

One of very first blogs, The Discipline of Delegation blog, highlights one key fear of delegation – the loss of control.  Knowing what is holding you back from delegating more is pivotal.  Ask yourself the question, what prevents me from delegating more?  What comes to mind?  Perhaps it is amongst the top ten I hear from leaders in workshops..

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gender equality in the workplace, training leaders, male allies, leadership training

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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gender equality in the workplace, training leaders, male allies, leadership training

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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