As we step into the year 2023, corporate leaders are faced with an ongoing challenge of a rapidly changing business environment. For a few of my clients, I am seeing them face a very pressing and unfortunate issue - navigating the challenge of layoffs. This has created a sense of uncertainty and fear among employees and highlighted the importance for them to navigate - purposefully, transparently, and with care and compassion.
Recently, I observed one of my executive clients communicate a very difficult message to his team that 50 jobs would be eliminated. Each one of the employees in the room was directly impacted. He delivered the news clearly yet compassionately as he explained the circumstances, acknowledged the impact of the decision, and offered space & uncomfortable silence for the individuals sitting in front of him to process the news best.
He put himself in the shoes of his employees - many tenured and committed for years to the organization - and took a heart-centered approach to share the difficult news. In navigating the challenge of layoffs, he met his employees in a place of empathy, went off script a little where necessary, and did his best to hold the space they needed to receive the news. He showed up as an intentional leader during a difficult time, and his actions served as an excellent example for other executives to follow.
In my book, Lead with Heart & Leave a Legacy, I talk about my own experience as a corporate executive faced with communicating a layoff. The lack of progress against the company strategy led to a top-down decision to execute a reduction in the workforce across the organization.
It was a heartbreaking day, but my team needed a sincere, transparent, vulnerable leader. The experience taught me the importance of leading with care and compassion during difficult times and proved to be the best approach in minimizing impact on the people.
When navigating the challenge of layoffs, intentional leaders prioritize taking steps to minimize the impact on their employees. They do this by adopting a heart-led approach that focuses on transparency, compassion, and being connected.
Here are three things that intentional leaders do when navigating the challenge of layoffs:
For my executive client, how he chose to communicate the devastating news influenced how those individuals reacted and accelerated their ability to process through the change. While life-changing, they felt supported and mirrored their leader's calm sense of commitment.
The year 2023 will continue to present many challenges for corporate leaders, including the ongoing issue of layoffs. By communicating transparently, showing care and compassion, and being mindful of the concerns of their remaining employees, corporate leaders can navigate the challenge of layoffs while minimizing employee impact and fostering a culture that will thrive in the years to come.
If you are a corporate leader looking to develop intentional leadership skills in your organization and cultivate a culture of care and compassion even in the most challenging of times, I invite you to work with me.
Is employee engagement a priority for your organization?
If it’s not, it should be. 82% of employees want their company to see them as a person, not just an employee (Gartner (2022)).
Being seen as a person looks like:
To meet the rising demand for more “people-centered” workplaces, leaders must lead differently.
In my work, I see two types of leaders:
Transaction leaders prioritize results, metrics, and outcomes. Intentional leaders prioritize people – while still meeting key targets and performance expectations.
Given what we know employees expect and prioritize, intentional leadership is more imperative than ever.
Top performers want to work for someone who is focused on cultivating personal connections, digging into what inspires each individual contributor, and creating personalized motivational strategies.
It’s easy to tell leaders to show up differently and lean into the proven practices of intentional leadership – but it’s a bit harder in practice.
Change fatigue and work friction, increased by remote and hybrid work, leave most leaders feeling unprepared, unsupported, and uncertain about how to be an effective leader.
Enter: Executive coaching.
This is the most effective way to equip today’s leaders to make behavioral changes and perspective shifts to become an effective, intentional leader.
Executive coaching is effective. It’s also one of the top resources and professional development tools requested by leaders themselves.
48% of global leaders want to learn from external coaching (DDI 2022).
Executive coaching has many benefits for leaders – both professionally and personally. Of those benefits, these are the 5 most important ways executive coaching can impact your leaders:
1. Create Space
An executive coaching engagement can provide the forum and breathing room that allows the leader to get off the hamster wheel for a moment and refocus/reconnect to their role as a leader. This space creates room to feel effective and connected to their purpose again.
When leaders are given the gift of time/space to focus their own leadership, they feel seen, acknowledged, and understood. This leads to feeling inspired and supported, so they can show up and create value for their team and organization.
2. Expand Possibility
A skilled executive coach will guide your leaders to their highest potential. Coaches use their skills, like active listening and building trust, to create a connection with each leader. This personal connection and belief gives the leader a conduit to see their own strengths and potential.
3. Increase Self Awareness
Leaders need to be more aware of their role. Without increased self-awareness, leaders, like all of us, will blindly continue doing things the same way as usual. The trouble with self-awareness is that it’s challenging to develop on your own.
An executive coach will guide leaders to examine their behavior, reflect on their decisions, and facilitate a powerful experience that allows the leader to become more aware of their values, emotions, and habits – and how they impact the people they lead.
Coaches help people see themselves more clearly and more compassionately. Executive coaching is the best way for a leader to understand their strengths and weaknesses, learning how to see different perspectives and accounting for their own actions as they are mirrored back.
4. Challenge Beliefs and Support Shifts
Like with self-awareness, it’s almost impossible to challenge long-held beliefs or shift your perspective on your own. Executive coaching gives leaders the power to examine the things they believe and the perspectives they hold to determine how these things affect their team and overall organization. Leaders who feel empowered to reconsider their beliefs and make important shifts are then able to re-engage with their team, recommit to their values and goals, and reignite their impact.
Leaders who participate in executive coaching feel more aligned to their priorities and are better at helping their team members feel aligned to their projects and responsibilities. An aligned leader is an inspired, effective leader.
The engagement, morale, retention, and overall well being of a company won’t change if leaders don’t start doing something different.
The benefits of effective executive coaching include improved emotional intelligence, better ego control, and an enhanced perspective. Is this the “different” you’re looking for?
If you’re ready to develop more effective, intentional leaders – click here to learn more about executive coaching and how our team of coaches can benefit your organization.
I don’t know about you, but this Thanksgiving was the first time since 2019 we could have the extended family together. Our celebration included 50 family members – aunts, uncles, and cousins – together in close quarters, sharing stories, laughter, and hugs. We were all in a room together… without masks! It felt like a renewed spirit of family and connection.
Because so much time had passed since our last gathering, it did take some time to “break the ice.” We had to intentionally work to increase the comfort level and rebuild the connection with extended family we hadn’t seen in a while.
We all needed time and space to symbolically remove our (COVID) masks and create space to step into our authentic selves. Reflecting on this experience highlighted the importance of authenticity and reminded me of how often this topic has come up in my work recently, especially in my work with self-aware leaders.
I recently asked a group of leaders – “What do you believe builds trust most quickly within a team?” Their answer? Authenticity.
But when it comes to being authentic, we often get it wrong – thinking “being authentic” always equates to “feeling comfortable.”
HBR published information about the authenticity paradox – digging into how feeling like you’re “faking it” can signify growth. Contrary to popular belief, genuine authenticity is about vulnerability and self-awareness, often requiring leaders to step out of their comfort zone.
What does the authenticity paradox look like in practice? Navigating the desire to be your “true self” when at the office while also recognizing that you are a work in progress that can (and should) grow and evolve to meet your organization's and team's changing needs.
As their careers advance, many leaders are challenged to elevate their leadership contributions in expanded or new roles. It’s at this moment that we must fight the urge to retreat to familiar behaviors and styles that feel authentic but are actually a step back. Growth often requires leaders to live in discomfort, being willing to create a new authenticity that reflects their expanded skills and responsibilities.
So many of us buy into the myth that authentic leaders have unwavering confidence in who they are. We believe it’s a sign that we are not authentic if we show signs of weakness, self-doubt, or discomfort. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Authentic leaders commit to learning more about themselves. They are vulnerable in sharing their mistakes and humble in their willingness to learn as they go.
I’ve noticed the importance of self-aware authenticity even more lately. These days, the new normal includes hybrid work schedules with remote teams and physically disconnected colleagues. With the leaders and teams I work with, on the rare occasion that teams come together in person, they need time to “remove the mask” and step into their authenticity. Everyone needs a little space before they are prepared to let themselves be seen and connect with one another.
Removing the mask takes courage and intentionality.
Leaders need the space to recognize the disconnect and the courage to stay open in the discomfort, so we can ultimately bring our best to the office and the teams we lead!
Interested in helping your leaders remove their masks and understand the crucial importance of self-aware, vulnerable authenticity?
I work directly with leadership teams to develop the soft skills required to succeed in the ever-changing landscape of today’s modern workplace.
Click here to learn more about how I can support your team.
I recently read a statistic: only 50% of businesses are still operating after 5 years. So, I quickly did some math and discovered that I established my LLC and took my first client after leaving the corporate world in 2017. Looks like I’m officially five years in – I made it!
My passion for leadership development began in my work at Catalina, and after some life-changing events, I left 70-hour work weeks to follow that passion. I knew I wanted more autonomy, flexibility, and fulfillment, and I wanted to make an even bigger impact. I wanted to take my experience and share it with other grow-minded leaders. So I started my company, named White Cap Coaching with inspiration from my kids (representing the things we love to do as a family – be on the water and in the mountains) and grew it from the ground up.
The topic of leadership resonated with me so much I wrote an entire book about it – Lead with Heart & Leave a Legacy.
And over the past 5 years, I’ve led my company through multiple evolutions. I’ve refined my messaging, impact, and moved from what I knew – traditional corporate speak (the male CEOs I worked with and for over the years taught me well!) – to a more authentic, relatable and intentional message. Now, my messaging matches my experiences and, most importantly, the unique and meaningful value and service that only I can provide to my amazing clients.
I cannot believe it has been 5 years already! I have connected with so many wonderful, intentional leaders and learned so much from them, and I’ve practiced specific strategies for success to help me stay focused and set me up for success.
As a solopreneur with a mission to support leaders as they define their own legacy of leadership for a happy, successful, and fulfilling life and career, I’ve learned quite a few things along the way. And today, I’d love to share the 5 keys to business that I’ve unlocked at this point in my business.
In the early days, I was caught in the trap of looking at others who were further along their path. I thought if I emulated what I saw them doing, it would accelerate my success.
But the truth is that comparing yourself to others knocks you off track from your true purpose. Comparison is the fastest way to forget the reason you started your business to begin with.
For me, it was to help leaders find simplicity in the complex and to be in service to them to find fulfillment, meaning & impact in their roles as leaders and in their lives as beautiful, whole people. Comparison can be evil. I learned that the faster path to success happened when I wasn’t worried about what others thought, or how others perceive me. I learned to practice finding inspiration in others’ successes while staying aligned to the path I was on without any apology for it.
I quickly realized that if I spent too much time trying to perfect what I was working on, I would never move forward. My business has changed in mind blowing ways since it began.
Over the years, I’ve changed my:
Trying to perfect everything was a distraction from the true work I needed to do. Instead of creating something perfect, stay in motion and keep moving forward – refining and improving as you go.
Starting your own business, especially as a solopreneur, requires a lot. The path will never be easy, but it can involve more ease.
I was working 70 hours a week in the corporate world, and I easily carried that bad habit into my new business at first. But I had to remind myself that I started this business to be different, to enjoy my work, to have more time and freedom.
Starting your own business isn’t easy but there should be some ease associated. Once I figured out how to stay in flow and connected to the work that I was doing and the impact I was making, I felt a lot more ease. It was also important that I operated in alignment, modeling what I was teaching my clients in my own work and business.
Intention is a huge reason my business has thrived for five years! In my work, intention shows up in every aspect of what I do:
Showing up with intention helps me stay in alignment, be flexible with my work, and know when to pivot.
This month as I celebrate my 5 years in business, I am privileged to gather with clients, colleagues, and friends to celebrate this accomplishment and thank those who supported me along the way.
The journey has not always been easy, there have been many ups and downs (including a significant health scare!) but starting my own business and following my passion has been one of the biggest wins of all. Over the past 5 years, whenever work became stressful and busy or something did not go my way, I often forgot to count the wins.
But celebrating even the small wins matters. All of those tiny victories have contributed to my overall success – helping me become a better leader and entrepreneur.
I started my business journey investing 25 years in the same company, learning 7 leadership lessons.
And now 5 years into my business as a solopreneur, I’m sharing the 5 keys to business I’ve discovered so far.
These milestones are the perfect opportunity to reflect on my experience and share all I’ve learned.
I’m endlessly grateful for the people I’ve met, the leaders I’ve coached, the lives I’ve changed, and the business I’ve created. Cheers to the next five years as a small business owner!
I recently had an opportunity to host a leadership development session with an impressive leadership team in Chicago. When they gathered together for our custom workshop, it was the first time they had all been in the same room in two years due to Covid-19 and what transpired in the time that had past gave significant importance on the development of the leader as learner.
David, the CEO, worked with me to create a customized goal and topic for this leadership development workshop. He asked me to introduce strategies and tools to help his team be more open to new ideas, to “rethink” the way things had been done before, and to be curious problem solvers, decision-makers, and leaders. Based on these goals for the team, I curated an extremely relevant topic for leaders today – “Are You Learning as Fast as the World is Changing?”
To prepare for our session, I asked the team to read Think Again by Adam Grant. This helped them feel equipped to dig deeply into the concept of rethinking.
The key point of our session was this: In a world that never stops changing, leaders can never stop learning.
I helped the leadership team embrace their role as continuous, curious learners by questioning common responses to their current actions and situations. We interrogated the validity of “that’s the way we’ve always done it” to see that just because something has been done a certain way does not mean it can’t be done differently.
Change-capable leaders must grow and evolve with the world. The leader’s job is constantly learning – rethinking current policies, questioning current responses, and investigating new potential solutions.
When your talent embraces their role, leader as learner:
David, the CEO, and I also developed another important objective for this session: allowing people time to reconnect with each other.
We spent a little less time “doing” and more time “being.” This time was crucial to the team – allowing them space and energy to renew their commitment to the organization and their roles as leaders.
The face-to-face time we prioritized brought up many interesting conversations, including:
These discussions helped the leaders better understand their peers and themselves.
Our custom session – focused on seeing the leader as a learner – was a perfect mix of learning and applying new concepts AND time sharing about what work and life look and feel like in today’s environment.
Not everyone will be able to keep pace in a constantly changing and demanding world and business environment.
Really smart people are studying the “future of work” and reporting that 10% of jobs will be automated in the next year, and 50% of jobs will be automated in the next decade. Specific requirements must be met to survive and thrive in the present and near future.
Successful leaders of the future must be proficient in these 3 soft skills:
1 | Balance between doing & learning
How much time on your calendar is spent doing vs. learning? Finding the right balance between current business demands and continuous learning is hard. The fast-paced environment often distracts leaders from their best, discouraging them from being curious, innovative, active, and engaged learners.
Leaders are often head down, trying to manage customer demands, fire drills, and simply keep up. Given this reality, it is easy to lose sight of the importance of learning. But if you want to be successful long-term, it is especially important to practice continuous learning. The leaders who will thrive are consistently, intentionally learning.
2 | Intention
As leaders progress and advance in their careers, they become less comfortable learning. Not knowing something, asking questions, being curious, and reaching out to experts require them to be brave.
Not knowing the answer to a question does not make a leader unintelligent. However, not asking and not learning something new because they are afraid will cause leaders to miss on many beautiful opportunities. The access to knowledge is there, but as they get further along, they have to be even more intentional about learning.
3 | Active Listening
Active listening is a key to learning. It is essential to listen to the thoughts and perspectives of people from different backgrounds to rethink our own perspectives, biases, and judgments that keep us opening up to other perspectives and from learning. By listening more deeply – and not just responding with the first thought that comes to mind – we can respond more intentionally. This kind of mindset helps encourage a culture of learning and an environment for others to learn, share thoughts, and allow their ideas to flourish.
Are you and your employees ready to develop soft skills for the ever-changing future world?
If you’re interested in ensuring your team is growing and adapting to current and future demands, contact me to create and facilitate a custom leadership development session.
Your team will love digging into the topic “Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?” and your entire organization will benefit from this targeted, intentional development.
Your early career professionals and high-potential leadership candidates will shape the near future landscape of your businesses. Looking five years to the future, what are you doing to prepare leaders for the future of your organization? If you’re unsure or unclear about effectively developing the leadership skills of your early career professionals, this post will give you clear next steps and strategies.
A recent Gallup study showed that 70% of workers are likely to change jobs to one offering training/education opportunities that upgrade their skills. Today’s employees want to feel supported and prepared for future roles. If employees do not feel properly trained or know exactly what to expect, they will likely search for other jobs and leave the company.
An organization that refuses to recognize the crucial need for targeted leadership development and ignores its employees’ desire for targeted professional development will lose top talent and struggle to retain long-term employees.
In light of the recent global pandemic, many employees have had to rethink how and where they work. Organizations must be aware of these changes to recruit and retain high-potential leaders. A “hybrid” work environment – with work time split between remote work and in-office work – has become an expectation for many.
As a coach, I help many leaders prepare for the hybrid work environment. Successful leaders need the right tools and strategies to excel in the new, modern workplace.
One of the leaders I coach summarized it like this:
“As leaders, we have to recognize change in the workforce. Instead of measuring hours of people sitting at their desks, we need to measure if the person is getting their job done effectively.”
B.D. Houston, TX.
85% of the jobs that college students will be doing in the year 2030 do not even exist today. That means we are preparing our future leaders for virtually unknown jobs, which is why it is so important that emerging leaders develop the soft skills needed to succeed in the future workforce.
Soft skills are usually the hardest to understand. Technical skills are concrete and simple to measure. Performance can be tracked and evaluated. But soft skills can feel unclear, uncertain, and impossible to measure.
Successful future leaders need to develop soft skills like:
A leader’s ability to manage their emotions, and provide context that helps their employees stay engaged, adapt, practice good judgment, and continue to learn are some of the additional soft skills that set leaders apart.
Given what we know about the ever-evolving workplace and the needs and desires of today’s future leaders – organizations must be forward-thinking and responsive.
You should be considering:
After working with so many leaders considering these critical questions, I was inspired my High-Potential Leadership Development Program.
This program focuses on the soft skills tomorrow’s leaders need to succeed in an ever-changing marketplace.
Over the course of 6 months, I helped my high-potential leaders develop the key skills needed to succeed as a leader of the future.
They learn how to apply these approaches in different work environments – from remote work to in-person settings and the more complicated hybrid work environment.
They learn how to influence others and be change-capable leaders in an ever-changing world.
The High Potential Leadership Development Program is a six-month group coaching, mentoring, and development program that allows your emerging leadership talent to develop skills, discover tools, and practice habits that successful leaders have proved.
I recently onboarded 30 high-potential leaders into this program, and they are making incredible growth and implementing the skills and strategies we’ve learned.
Ready to make an investment in your own high-potential leaders? Click here to connect with me and learn more about how my coaching program can equip your top talent to become the most effective leaders of the near future.
Have you ever considered how self-awareness affects your career success? Self-awareness, for leaders especially, is the foundation of authenticity and impact.
How can you expect to understand and influence others if you don’t first understand yourself?
Once you know your leadership style, you can see how your approach and perspective impact those around you. Self-awareness helps you better understand others and improves how you collaborate and work together.
The challenge with self-awareness is that it is often hard to see ourselves accurately. Any number of factors can skew our perceptions. I was recently introduced to an assessment that facilitates a deep, meaningful understanding of self: the Profile XT.
Profile XT assesses your:
This specific combination of insights creates powerful self-knowledge that would not be possible on your own.
I work with a client who was just promoted to VP of Information Technology, receiving a considerably more significant scope of responsibility. He now has more visibility and the ability to impact his company’s strategic results. This is his chance to make the most of his opportunity to prove he is ready, capable, and a clear candidate for a C-level position in the future.
We kicked off our work together with the Profile XT so we could understand his current leadership style and elevate his skills. This client is naturally reserved. He brings a highly analytical perspective to his work and needs certainty before making decisions.
However, the organization relies on him to bridge the gap between data and technology, expecting him to accelerate their shift toward leveraging both functions to support their growth strategy.
Given the high stakes of his new leadership role and the self-awareness he gained from the Profile XT, he could see where he needed to make some changes and where he should focus his development.
My client could clearly see where his analytical, results-driven, and low-risk style interfered with his ability to be a vulnerable, connected, intentional leader. Together, we identified actions he could immediately put in place to communicate more often, communicate more clearly, and practice active listening to help his team feel seen, valued, and heard.
When you are willing, like my client in this example, to invest in yourself and dig into your leadership approach, you can improve your skills, hone your talents, and expand your capabilities.
The main benefits this client experienced during our self-awareness work were:
Because the Profile XT was so powerful with my 1:1 coaching clients, I’ve recently begun leveraging it in group coaching. (You can click here to see the coaching services I offer.)
After seeing how useful the Profile XT assessment has been for my clients, I decided to put my time and energy into becoming PXT Certified. Now I can support my clients even better while efficiently and effectively accelerating their leadership and career goals.
While there are several benefits to improving your self-awareness, there are 2 key benefits to engaging with coaching and the Profile XT assessment:
You’ve seen all the evidence and witnessed what is possible when you engage with your self-awareness as a leader. Now you’re ready to put the Profile XT to work in your own professional development, and I’m excited for you to see what’s in store!
When you join a small group coaching circle – intimate, truly small groups of like-minded leaders committed to growing together – you get access to the robust PXT assessment alongside numerous other resources and tools. The group accountability and support facilitate deeper learning and more effective coaching, helping you reach your goals and develop new skills.
Interested in taking your leadership to the next level? Click here to contact me about joining a group coaching program and intentionally engaging with your self-awareness.
The world is clearly changing, with emerging technologies and industries spinning up new jobs at a rapid rate. Things like artificial intelligence, biotech, and fintech are leading to both new job creation and the obsoletion of jobs that have been around for decades.
Is this cause for concern? I don’t believe so. Instead, it is a welcome reminder that as the world changes, we must change with it. Keeping your skills up-to-date and relevant can feel challenging, but the best organizations are actively reskilling their workforce to prepare their talent for the future.
And don’t think this just applies to technical skills. Soft skills, for leaders and employees, are also rapidly changing – and just as important to your future success.
As a current leader, you’re most likely focused on the near future and goals for your organization. Part of a healthy, successful leadership plan includes nurturing, preparing, and teaching soon-to-be leaders within your team.
While technical skills will continue to change and evolve, you can best prepare your younger talent through intentional development of the crucial soft skills for leaders of the future.
These soft skills and leadership competencies will help mold upcoming talent into resilient, empathetic, and emotionally intelligent leaders – prepared to take your organization successfully into the next decade, and beyond.
Let’s look at the top five soft skills you should be actively helping your emerging leaders develop to be successful in tomorrow’s job market and world.
This is where you want to focus when preparing your upcoming leaders. Each of these soft skills will set your leaders apart – helping them create a successful culture today and into 2030.
Let’s now look at each of these competencies in more detail to see how we can best implement them in our own leadership practices and cultivate them in your young talent.
I routinely share some version of this statement with my clients. True self-awareness – how you learn and work on your own – is essential to fully understanding how you show up in the workplace and in daily life.
Not sure how to improve your own self-awareness? Start by reviewing the feedback you have received from previous managers, in past performance reviews, or in any personality style assessments you have taken. Create an inventory of the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities you see emerging.
Once you’ve completed this inventory, add to it, the unique skills you bring to the table, the tasks you specifically enjoy, and the things you’re best at. This could range from being certified in Google Analytics to being bilingual – embrace your specific skills and interests. Once you’ve generated a list, look over it to see where you could potentially use those skills to improve your leadership, benefit your team, or add value to your organization.
You must communicate clearly and effectively to be a successful leader.
Communication is a two-way process – it’s not just you speaking to others, it’s also you taking the time to listen and connect. When something isn’t working, good communicators speak up. When they need help, good communicators ask for it. And when it comes to strong business relationships and team development, good communicators are at the top.
Networking – the art of building those business relationships and connections – helps you achieve your goals more quickly. Personal connections also make your work more fulfilling, leading to a happier life inside and outside of work. You never know who you will meet, or how those connections will influence your future!
Feedback – both good and hard to hear – is essential for an effective workplace.
Intentional leaders are skilled at delivering feedback (yes, even when it’s hard) and are equally as skilled at receiving feedback from others. Constructive criticism is often necessary, especially when something important is missed or negative behaviors impact the team. But don’t forget, it’s also just as important to let team members know when they are excelling.
Great leaders don’t shy away from difficult conversations – they lead those interactions with humility, intention, and compassion.
Feedback helps everyone (including the leaders improve and do their best!
We know the workplace is constantly changing, so the ability to adapt to new expectations and goals is key to staying at the top of your game. Alongside that adaptability, your emerging leaders will do well to stay nimble and flexible – ready to change directions or try something new, sometimes at a moment’s notice.
This often looks like being deep in one project and having a new task or responsibility dropped on your plate. Instead of panicking or freezing – this is the perfect opportunity to pick it up and run with it. You can handle more than one thing at a time, and don’t forget to check-in and clarify what’s the most important if you feel like you have too many competing priorities.
Being able to take a deep breath and embrace a “go with the flow” mindset is a huge asset for leaders.
One soft skill for leaders of the future looks like knowing (and being) yourself! Good leaders are compassionate and care about their team’s success – both at work and in life. When you are in touch with your own needs and show up authentically, you’re more likely to encourage your employees to do the same.
One key component of being a connected leader is practicing active listening. This helps your team members feel heard and acknowledged, and it also builds more comfortable stronger relationships. Unsurprisingly, the more connected you are as a leader, the better listener (and communicator!) you will be.
Early career professionals and emerging leader candidates will shape the future landscape of most organizations over the next 5-10 years.
One of the best things you can do for your organization is to intentionally and effectively prepare your people for the rapidly changing future workplace.
If you are interested in implementing initiatives that prepare high-potential employees to lead, contact me to learn more about my Emerging Leadership Development Program.
Just as I challenge my clients to grow, develop, and progress as intentional leaders and toward their goals, they also challenge me. Through our discussions, I regularly learn new things that are reinforced daily, and I am challenged to continue to embody the coaching mindset (one of the ICF core competencies).
This challenge serves me well, as I ensure to “walk the talk” – both in my work and in my life.
Most recently, a client conversation inspired a discussion, and further consideration, of intention.
Intention has always been a major concept and guiding principle for me, both as a leader and as a coach of leaders.
I practiced intentional leadership, wrote about it in my book, and now I help my clients define and practice how to show up and engage with others with intention in their own leadership.
It’s clear that being intentional is a big deal. Being a present, effective, heart-led leader is a defining characteristic. But it doesn’t always have to be a big habit or a big practice.
In the previously mentioned discussion with my client, our conversation showed me the power of practicing, and demonstrating, micro-moments of intention.
As I’ve written about a number of times, and like I tell all of my clients – being an intentional leader requires thought and planning. Choosing to lead with intention can be time-consuming and detailed. You can feel like you need dedicated time to think, plan, and get ahead of your goals each day.
You spend time considering, “Who can I purposefully engage with today?” and “How can I show up in this meeting to best engage with my team and inspire them to take action to solve XYZ?”
An intentional leader champions their employees, connects with their colleagues, and acts with purpose.
Whew! I’m exhausted just reading that description. It’s true – being an intentional leader does take time, energy, and focus. (And it’s worth it!)
But it doesn’t always have to be so arduous. In fact, there are daily opportunities to practice micro-moments of intention outside of the bigger, more recognizable areas of intention.
You’re not always going to have a plan – and that’s okay. The best leaders know how to embrace micro-moments of intention to stand in their power and remain in the driver’s seat of a particular situation.
You can be intentional without a plan! These micro-moments are all about reinforcing your ability to lead with intention at your core, without a pre-planned effort or decision.
To put it another way, these micro-moments help you build an intrinsic, natural reflex and habit of being intentional. They are a powerful addition to your leadership toolkit! And micro-moments help you show your people who you really are.
What do these micro-moments look like in practice? Let’s explore some examples.
A micro-moment of intention can be a:
Take 3 minutes right now and jot down a few times today when you experienced a potential micro-moment of intention.
Did you choose to act with intention or did you let the moment pass? This isn’t a practice in judgment – it’s about recognizing how often these moments occur and being more aware of how we engage with them.
Invite the micro-moments in and choose to show up with intention. This is how you’ll become the leader you want to be.
Need help understanding how to engage with more intention or improve your skills as an intentional leader? This is exactly what I help my clients with, and I’d love to see how I can help you step into your true leadership potential. Everyone benefits when you lead with compassion, empathy, and intention.
Let’s chat and see what’s possible when we work together. Click here to schedule a free consultation.
Leading leaders is a complicated, complex task in the best of times. And I think we can all agree that the past two years have been more challenging than easy.
Do you have a newly formed team of leaders?
Have the changes required by the state of the workplace (and the world) over the past two years challenged your team of leaders?
Have you found yourself focusing more on the short-term, immediate survival and results instead of prioritizing nurturing and communicating with your leadership team?
These scenarios cover a wide spectrum of experiences, but all of them have a similar effect – your team has become a “working group,” focused on their individual performance and only interacting on a transactional, informational basis.
This helpful graph shows how your team’s performance and effectiveness affect each other.
A “working group” of leaders should not be the goal. Effective leaders and CEOs want to foster a truly high-performing team.
Given the challenges and setbacks of working in and through a global pandemic, you may have had a high-performing team that has slid into “working group” mode.
You may have a new team that hasn’t reached its potential yet.
Or maybe you have a team that has just never gotten past the “working group” stage.
Regardless of how you got here, you know that “working group” is not where you want your leaders to stay.
But how do you initiate change?
It all comes down to building connections and TRUST.
Trust is the foundation of a high-performing team. When trust is present, your leaders experience the psychological safety they need to make mistakes and learn from them, be vulnerable with one another, hold each team member mutually accountable, and be ready and willing to share professional wins and failures.
That is the true picture of a high-performing team.
Let’s look at an example in action from one of my recent clients.
I was introduced to our case study team in early 2021. They were a newly-formed executive team that was brought together in a restructure post-acquisition. (Never an easy position to be in for any leader.)
The team members joined the new team from different functions in different companies with the goal to provide a new analytics function to the organization.
This group of individuals – the very definition of a “working group” – had the opportunity to move through the “Team Performance Curve” (see graph above) to establish a common purpose, performance goals, trust, and accountability.
We had 12 months together, and I needed them to make significant progress in the 5 core behaviors of a cohesive team:
I pulled the team together for monthly leadership development sessions where I covered these behaviors and then helped them apply what they learned in their own monthly meetings. They could practice demonstrating each behavior in real-time as they came together to address their business agenda.
This approach supported and developed an effective, cohesive team post-merger and reorganization.
In our first meeting, I had the leaders on this team score themselves in the 5 core behaviors. After 12 months of working together, I had them re-assess and we saw significant improvement across all FIVE behaviors.
Their growth in the 5 core behaviors helped this team move from a “working group” all the way through the curve to a high-performing team.
The leaders’ results were also seen across the organization, and our team’s mission became a new corporate pillar for the entire organization!
It can feel overwhelming and impossible to make changes with your senior team devolves or can’t seem to move past the “working group” stage. But you will see results when you start with trust.
Building trust among your team is the foundational first step to moving through the performance curve and becoming the established, high-performance team you want to have. And when your team of leaders becomes high-performing, you’re going to elevate the performance of your entire organization.
Ready to get started with your team? This is a simple trust-building exercise I encourage you to try in your next team meeting.
Personal Histories Exercise
When you try this, you’ll see the level of psychological safety increase as your team starts to actively build trust. It’s simple, effective, and productive.
Once you see the benefit of building trust – and the other 4 core behaviors – with your team, you’ll wish you had started this process even sooner.
When you’re ready, I provide customized team development programs based on your unique team needs, personalities, and goals.
Reach out and schedule a call to talk about how I can help your leaders become a high-performing team and elevate the results and efficacy of your entire organization.