The Hidden Cost of Being Right

The Hidden Cost of Being Right

How often have you been in a meeting where all is going smoothly until you hit that ‘pothole’? The point in the conversation where someone pushes back on what is being proposed. The discussion moves into a point/counterpoint, where both ‘sides’ try to convince the other of the rightness of their point of view.

Coaching: Focus on a Vision and Achieve It

Coaching: Focus on a Vision and Achieve It

The Coaching Fellowship pairs young women who are social impact leaders under 35 years of age with an experienced executive coach. During eight coaching sessions, we develop goals and a plan to work towards achieving those goals.

I was matched with Wendy Appel, one of the founding partners of Trilogy Effect. Wendy is a boho-chic fashionista, avid traveler, and an executive coach for many Fortune 500 companies, and non-profits. Pro-bono coaching offers her the opportunity to give back and she tells me, is a great source of joy for her.

You make a difference. What are your Ripples?

You make a difference. What are your Ripples?

We may never know the ripple effect that our acts of generosity, kindness, caring, listening, support, and sharing of ourselves have on another. When we give each other a hand up, it’s a win-win.

We feel good, we help someone else, others are happy for our success, and it has a multiplying effect. Regardless of whether we are a giver, taker or matcher, what we say and do has a ripple effect.

Three Leadership Lessons

Three Leadership Lessons

Guest Blogger: Patrica Vekich Waldron, Global Industry Marketing Director, IBM Corporation @PVWaldron. 

My belief is that leadership is a combination of knowledge, skills and circumstance. It is not predicated on a title, degree, size of a team, budget or the location of your office.  

 

 

Prepare to be Inspired: Young Women Leaders of Today

Prepare to be Inspired: Young Women Leaders of Today

Pro bono coaching for the Coaching Fellowship has given me the great privilege of working with some extraordinary young women who are making a positive change in our universe.

They inspire me and keep me connected to the younger generation. It’s a way that I  give back to young people and to offer what I have learned throughout my many years as a business woman and student of life. Today meet Aisha.

 

Conversations for Action: Are you in the stands or on the ice? Part Two

Conversations for Action: Are you in the stands or on the ice?  Part Two

Conversations for Action get us on the ice, moving the puck and advancing on the goal.

Most of us have experienced meetings or one-on-one conversations that consist of a lot of talking but result in little or no action. They are like the conversations in the stands at the hockey game – possibly interesting, maybe exhilarating, but that make no difference to the outcome of the game.

 

Conversations for Action: Are you in the stands, or on the ice? Part One

Conversations for Action: Are you in the stands, or on the ice? Part One

Language is such a fundamental and basic part of our lives that we don’t give it much thought. As a result, we aren’t very aware of the power of language and we can become rather blasé about our conversations – when in fact, language or conversation is how just about everything gets done.

Work and The Inconvenience of Life

Work and The Inconvenience of Life

I generally write about organizational and leadership challenges. Personal life events may seem a little off-topic. Yet they are not. We live whole lives, not half-lives; so personal and professional are not separate despite our best efforts to keep them that way.

The chances are extremely high that, as a leader progressing through your career you find ways to “balance” your work/life demands. Sure, there are times when work takes far too high a portion of the pie, but you learn ways to level the scales; you make up "life-time" on weekends and vacations. 

But there is one personal event that we will all likely run up against which we can’t plan for. It is extremely inconvenient. It’s the death of a loved one.

Boss like a 'Mentor'

Boss like a 'Mentor'

This Forbes article: 31 Telltale Signs You Are A Horrible Boss got me thinking. Many of us may recognize our former or present bosses described in this article.  AND, we may just recognize ourselves!

I began to wonder what happens to someone when they become a boss?

Which led to … do we need to have bosses?

What practical function do they provide and do the negatives outweigh the benefits?

And finally, how can you “Boss like a leader?”

Leadership Wisdom: Practice the Pause

Leadership Wisdom: Practice the Pause

When I think about the many mentors, teachers, guides, coaches and colleagues in my life whom I view as “wise”, what stands out for me is this: wisdom is borne of practice and reflection.

Practice and reflection turns knowledge into wisdom. “Wise” people have put ideas into practice, and then they pause to reflect on the results.

When Good Days Go Bad

When Good Days Go Bad

As a leader, you’d probably prefer to spend your days on the fun stuff—the wins, the successes, the good news about the latest product launch, or the excellent way the team collaborated. But the reality is that moments of celebration and acknowledgement tend to be fewer and more fleeting than you might expect. You’re more likely to spend your day dealing with the things that break down

Listening: The Most Important Leadership Skill

Listening: The Most Important Leadership Skill

I’ve worked with executives and their leadership teams for more than 20 years. Often, I am asked, “What is the most important skill to develop to become a really great leader?” The answer to that question is simple. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s listening.

Alignment: What it is and Why it Matters.

Have you ever been in a meeting and thought everyone agreed on a decision that was presented? Then find out later that people were not acting on the decision, were actively sabotaging the decision, or confused that a decision had even been made?

I help leaders deal with these mischief-makers all the time. Usually, the situation comes about when there’s a lack of alignment.

What is alignment?

Alignment is when everyone can get behind the decision, even if they have reservations; they agree that it’s the best course of action at present and good enough to get the game in play.

Alignment is different than consensus. This is a “good enough for now” approach to forward action. People leave the meeting committed to the decision and effectively cascade that information and stand behind the decision. 

And when there’s a lack of alignment, it’s usually because:

  • The team leader doesn’t know how to get alignment.
  • There’s not enough trust on the team to have an open discussion about the decision.
  • People are unclear about their role in the decision-making. 
  • The team leader doesn’t surface and allow for concerns, opinions, recommendations, etc.
  • People feel railroaded.
  • People think “I’ll just go do what I want anyway … there are no consequences.”
  • People feel straddled between their allegiance to their own organization and the leadership team. They believe they have to choose and most often err on the side of their own organization. 

A few years ago, I dealt with a situation where Jessica, the newly promoted head of an organization was unaware that one of her section heads was not behind a decision that had been made. The consequences were ultimately destructive for the entire organization. Here’s the context and how that situation unfolded:

Jessica was promoted to the executive director position of a medical group. Initially, she was unable to get alignment for her decisions, particularly with Jim. He was the director of one of her leadership teams and tended to have an autocratic style.

Everyone knew Jim had wanted the executive director job. He saw the job of executive director as his last chance before retirement to run the organization. When Jessica got the position, he proceeded with a chip on his shoulder and attempted to discredit her at every turn.

In his own meetings, Jim didn’t allow much time for discussion. He was a powerhouse in his own right. Jim had strong opinions and was often at loggerheads with Jessica.

Unfortunately, that message cascaded down to his medical team. He would tell them what the executive team decided and that they had to implement it. He let his team know he disagreed with the decision. Not only that, he bad-mouthed the executive team and specifically Jessica.

As these things go, word of that got back to Jessica and the executive team. 

You can imagine the net effect of that on the executive team, his team, and the teams they managed. The impact looked like this:

  •  People on the executive team didn’t respect or trust Jim. He lost credibility.
  • Jim appeared as a victim and disempowered to his medical team. The “they’re making me / us do it” mentality.
  • Jim’s team became blockers instead of enablers to forwarding implementation of programs for the larger organization.
  • Jim’s team (and the cascade of employees) were getting mixed messages from the organization’s leadership and from Jim and were confused.
  • Morale dropped. People did not feel and believe they could contribute and make a difference; they did not feel they were moving together toward common goals.
  • Jim didn’t set up his team for success, and the individuals on his team were seen as complicit.
  • Skepticism in the larger organization increased, along with this smaller team’s resistance to change.

These were the consequences for Jim, his team, and the company. Jessica, however, in her role as leader, could have headed off the damages when she took her new role, by implementing a few leadership techniques.

Upon reflection, Jessica asked herself whether she had rushed things to achieve her goals, rather than take time upfront to build a strong team foundation. Did she:

  • Explicitly discuss her decision-making model or process … how the decisions were going to be made. (Core issue: Team operating principles.)
  • Work to build team trust? When people are afraid to speak up and give their opinion. (Core issue: Team trust.)
  • Create a problem-solving environment that allowed for productive conflict where differing opinions are surfaced, expressed, and discussed and a diversity of ideas are encouraged? (Core issues: Trust, facilitation, team operating principles, meeting agenda.)
  • Allot enough time for a meaningful discussion about decision? (Core issues: Facilitation, agenda.)
  • Make sure people were aligned and committed to the decision before they left the meeting? (Core issues: Use of alignment process, facilitation.)
  • And finally, did she or other people on the team railroad others into a decision? (Core issue: Team operating principles, effective communication, facilitation, trust.)

Getting the alignment required to function well as an organization takes rigor, effective facilitation, and time upfront. The price paid up front is far, far cheaper than the downstream costs and unintended consequences of a leadership team that is not aligned behind decisions.

 

 

What is Alignment and Why Does it Matter?

What is Alignment and Why Does it Matter?

Have you ever been in a meeting and thought everyone agreed on a decision that was presented, only to find out later that people were not acting on the decision, were actively sabotaging the decision, or confused that a decision had even been made?

Tips to Improve Your Email EQ

Tips to Improve Your Email EQ

Email has made our lives easier and more efficient, but it’s also the source of many misunderstandings and conflicts at work.  Here are some simple dos and don’ts that will help you improve your email effectiveness: