Category Archives: Leadership & management

How to Maintain Your Sanity in a Hectic Job or World

WEBCSI attended a webinar hosted by the World Business & Executive Coach Summit today that was aimed at coaches but provided some useful tips for anyone rushing from project to project.

The question under discussion was something like ‘how do you manage energy when you’re dealing with back-to-back meetings?

I remember those days in Corporate America when that’s how I (and most of my colleagues) spent most of my/our days. We often lamented ‘How are we to get our work done?’

The suggestions from today’s session were very helpful but still might pose a problem in implementation in that back-to-back meeting scenario.

Here are 3 ideas shared by Pam McLean and my assessments about how to implement them in a fast-paced world.

1. Preserve time before your meeting
Gather your thoughts. Invest time at least the day prior to your meeting to consider how you want to present yourself and the important points you want to make. Think about the other attendees, their concerns, aspirations and likely mindset. Notice any anxiety you might be feeling and acknowledge it . Recognize it’s there to help you prepare and be your best.

2. Remain present throughout the session
If the content of the meeting is contentious, it’s likely that emotions will get stirred. Do you best to keep breathing slowly and consiously. Draw your breathe in all the way down to your belly-button. Exhale slowly to relieve your own tension. Keep aware of any sensations you’re experiencing in your body. As you focus your attention on them and breathe, they will mellow out.

3. Create reflective space after the meeting
If you can do this immediately after the meeting, that’s ideal, but sometimes not so realistic when faced with back-to-back sessions. Even when you have breathing room, there will be the temptation to put off the reflection to later when you’re less ‘busy’. Don’t do it. Take a afew minutes and ask yourself, what did I observe about myself? What did I learn? What could I do differently? Of what am I proud?

Taking a few minutes before, during and after important interactions will help you become more aware of yourself, your interactions with others and the ways you can be more effective in presenting your ideas and influencing those around you.


5 More Facets of Being Extraordinary

extraordinary2My last article on being extraordinary received such rave reviews, I thought I would continue with a few more simple ideas.

1. Bring people together. Don’t separate them.
The world is filled with real and potential conflict. Conflict is a way of life. It won’t be avoided so long as people have different values, motivations, wants, goals, thought patterns and desires (the list goes on).

Conflict is inevitable. However, an extraordinary person seeks not just to fan the flames but to bring resolution to the issue. (As the ‘revolutionaries’ of the 70s used to say, ‘If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.’)

Complaining and protesting have their place but true progress is made with people collaborate and create solutions that meet the needs of the parties in conflict. Positions are hard to meld. Interests, on the other hand, once thoroughly uncovered can be addressed. When groups or individuals are at odds over something, strive to discover their underlying interests and needs. Focus on them, not the ‘solution’ each of them is arguing for.

2. Respect people’s partners.
The last article spoke about the importance of respecting people’s property and not taking what isn’t yours. This idea builds on that one. While people aren’t property, respecting existing relationships will deter a whole lot of ‘mess’ and drama.

A colleague of mine found herself on the verge of a triangle – 2 triangles really. She and her attraction were both married, neither happily. But before they ‘jumped in’, they both ended their relationships so they could start with a clean slate. It was still hard, but at least they didn’t muddy their existing relationships with an extra person. Realizing how unhappy they individually were, they courageous decisions, untangled their commitments and then moved forward together.

3. Don’t waste other people’s time.
One of the bullets in the last article had to do with making the world a better place. It seems that the way some people feel empowered is by usurping the energy and time of those around them. If you ask people for things you don’t need or create processes that are unnecessary, just because you can, you’re doing damage. You’re wasting valuable resources, time and energy just to build yourself up. Don’t do that.

4. Avoid fascination with other people’s problems.
Unfortunately, an entire genre of ‘reality’ shows are dedicated to telecasting people’s troubled lives. People who watch have said that seeing the issues others face make them feel better about their own lives. I know that’s possible, but here’s another alternative.

Do proactive, positive things in your own life and feel good about that rather than measuring yourself as ‘superior’ to people who can’t get it together. Shape your life the way you want. Set the bar high and get to work. Living vicariously while judging others poorly isn’t a good way to move forward.

5.  When someone else is happy or successful, celebrate and enjoy it.
The ‘cheap’ approach is to be envious and diminish their success. It’s the counterpoint to the bullet above. If they’re ‘all that’, they must have cheated or they must be bad humans.

When people accomplish great things, especially things you’d like to have, you must appreciate it, even if you don’t like the person. Doing otherwise tells the Universe you don’t like success, you don’t value having a lot of money, you don’t want to get promoted.  Don’t be a hater! Celebrate the success of others and keep doing what it takes to create that success for yourself.

I heard this great line at my conference last week, “If you’re not getting recognized as fast as you believe you should, make sure you’re doing everything you can to be WORTHY of recognition.”

5 Keys for Stepping Up to Your True Leadership Persona

stand outMy husband and I recently watched two movies, The King’s Speech and Battleship.

Both depicted characters who were thrust into leadership before they thought they were ready.

Their first reaction was denial, mixed with a hint of resentment, “Why me? Why now?”

Neither thought they were ready nor capable.

Has that ever happened to you?  How did you react?

Regardless of your history, how do you think you’d react now if you wer suddenly handed a huge, visible, critical responsibility?

Whether you’ve just been thrust into the spotlight or are longing for that level of accountability, here are some ideas that will amplify your readiness for the role.

1) Have faith you can do it.
Most people downplay their abilities. Our parents taught us not to boast or brag. We’ve seen other leaders get assassinated (literally or figuratively). Plus, let’s face it, it’s more comfortable for most not to be in the limelight and just carry on with their regular routine.

The truth is, we’re far more capable than we generally believe. It often takes some catastropic event for us to figure out what we’re really made of.

2) Have faith in others.
Don’t try to accomplish mammoth tasks alone. Look for help. Ask for help. Assume help and make requests. You may need to provide some context to your ‘team’ (whether ad hoc, virtual or designated). They need to know the import of what you’re asking them to take on. They need to know what’s at stake. They’ll likely have to step up too.

3) Invest in yourself.
You may need support beyond what your immediate team can provide. The King of England hired a coach/speech therapist to help him with his stuttering. It was a secret arrangement initially and required the King to not be ‘King’ which caused some challenges in the beginning. The King had to set his ego aside and recognize he didn’t have all the answers. He also had to reach deep inside and work on his inner game in addition to his moving mouth parts.

4) Be bold.
This is not the time for timidity. In critical times, big actions are needed. Perhaps you need to stop an impending disaster. Or perhaps, you’re needed to win the big game. Whatever it is, you must go beyond the tried and true. It’s time to innovate.

5) Act, don’t think.
You don’t want to be stupid obviously, but you also don’t want to over-think your decisions. In emergency situations, speed is often the critical factor. Trust your gut. If an idea comes to you, try it out.

Leadership occurs when you put accomplishing the task at hand ahead of your ego and fear.  You have to become a better person than you thought you were. It’s possible. Just step up.


The 4 Seeds of Selling & Influence

I am a lifelong learner. I’m always interested in expanding my thinking and my knowledge base. Recently, I attended a training and picked up some great nuggets on how to best connect with and influence people.

Whether you’re a corporate executive, a business owner, consultant, entry level employee, mother, spouse, neighbor or other ‘character’, you will benefit from being skilled at influencing others in an ethical manner. Being able to make it easy for people to understand your point of view will allow you to create more meaningful, productive and even profitable relationships in life.

These four ideas are simple, yet truly effective if implemented with the right (read ethical) spirit.

1. Less is best
Have you ever been bombarded by a pushy sales person who talked and talked and talked until you found yourself not even listening to them? Have you ever been guilty of that yourself? Talking too much will bore people. It will likely alienate people. It will shut them down and shut down the possibility of your idea as well. Focus on the points that are most relevant to the person with whom you are speaking.

2. Create interaction
This tip is closely aligned with the previous one. The more you can get your prospect, boss, spouse engaged in the conversation, the more they will feel like they’re a vital part of the process. Additionally, the more they talk, the more you learn. And the more you know, the better you’ll be able to appeal to ther needs.

3. Laughter leads to listening
When people are having fun, they pay more attention. Their minds are more open to what you’re proposing. They feel happier in general and more positive about you and your ideas. Sometimes the topic may not seem to warrant having fun, but if there is anything you can say that might put a smile on their face, do it. Smiling will relax and open their heart and their mind will follow.

4. Selling is not telling
Genius selling is asking. I once heard a multimillionaire business owner say that her goal is to ask so many of the right questions, that her prospects convince themselves they need to work with her.  Skillful questions capture the attention of your potential partner. They create interaction and supply you with valuable insight.

And here’s a magical concept…when you get people agreeing with you throughout the conversation, when it comes time to make your ‘pitch’ and ‘close’ them, they’re already predisposed because they’ve felt like they were in agreement with you all along!

People love to buy. They hate being sold.

So next time you have an idea, concept, project, service you’re striving to enroll someone in, remember…and implement these simple ideas.

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Terminating Turf Wars in 9 Simple Steps

Conflict is inevitable.

85% of employees say they experience conflict on the job. Even though there is no line item for it on your income statement, conflict is expensive. Managers say they spend 40 – 60% of their time dealing with conflict of some sort!

Fortunately, the negative impact of conflict can be minimized with preventative training and post-incident interventions.

This article will focus on the 9-step Terminating Turf Wars™ process which must happen in order to resolve a major conflict that has erupted.

1. Set your desired outcome
The desired outcome will vary depending on the situation and the players.  It may be a specific decision that all partied agree to support.

It may be the ‘fact’ that the groups agree to any decision (e.g. a now unknown, negotiated decision) and move forward. It may be new behaviors that must be adopted by the people involved. Without such clarity as a starting point, subsequent conversations could go off in counter-productive directions.

2. Communicate the importance of reaching a resolution
This is where the executive in charge must take a stand and tell the warring parties that they must end the war and come up with a solution. Sometimes executives stay out of the fracas and ‘allow’ the parties to duke it out themselves. This is a dangerous practice however as it could likely take much longer to resolve, further wasting precious resources (energy and time) that could be put to more productive use.

3. Identify key players
In any war, there are a handful of people who are at the core of the issue. They are likely the ones who are keeping the conflict in place and are also the ones who will likely be directly involved in the resolution of the issue. Their input, therefore, is critical. Private conversations with each of them will shed light on the history, impact, import and obstacles to solving the problem.

4. Survey and interview
Other parties may have a less involved role but their input is critical none the less. They may be able to provide some much-needed objectivity that the key waring parties can’t see.  Their perspective of the far-ranging impact of the key issues and how they are hampering day-to-day operations, may bring some additional motivation to get the issue resolved. When the key stakeholders to the conflict see how their behavior is impacting others, they may soften their positions. Anonymous surveys are great ways to get issues on the table in a more objective manner.

5. Assess data
Once the interviews and surveys are complete, they need to be compiled and analyzed by a third party, preferably one who is far outside the reach of the issues. Objectivity in this assessment process is critical, lest the parties will dismiss the data as tainted.

6. Articulate the issues
Data will point out major beliefs, trends and impacts of the issues. Sharing the results of the interviews and surveys with the group provides a great starting point for conversations about the key issues, how people feel about them and why it’s critical for the issues to get solved NOW!

7. Design an intervention
Once the data is available, a skilled facilitator will be able to design the appropriate kinds of conversations that will help the people or groups talk with each other in a constructive manner. Depending on the source of the conflict, the focus of the intervention may be on understanding personality styles, establishing communication or decision-making procedures or revamping broken processes.

8. Facilitate conversations
Designing the topics of conversations is one thing. Actually facilitating them is quite another. When tempers have flared and accusations been made, it’s often difficult for the people embroiled in the conflict to talk with each other civilly.

In one difficult situation I helped resolve, the content of the first meeting was all about creating safety for people to air their concerns. Conversations in that meeting were frequently ‘paused’ to analyze the tone and tenor of the dialog and note how that tone facilitated or impeded forward progress.

At some point, if managed well, the group will come up with a solution they can live with. It may take time. It may take removing some players, shifting roles, revising strategies, creating new procedures, learning and practicing new behaviors or adopting new rules for future decision-making. It is at this point that the executive direction really kicks in. People are often loathe to make changes in their processes or communication styles. When the top boss however says, ‘this shall be’, they will be more likely to comply.

9. Monitor and fortify the truce
Truces are delicate things. They may represent the best thinking of the entire group. They may have opened new possibilities for the company. However, people are creatures of habit and could default to their old behaviors. Periodic meetings to assess progress and work through challenges will help turn the truce into a new world order.

These 9 steps are simple. Implementing them can be tricky but will expert guidance, sufficient motivation, personal commitment and collaboration, sweeping changes can be made.

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