Archive for the ‘Personal Presence’ Category
Mindful Mondays: Three Reasons to Consider Dialing It Back a Bit June 10 2013 no responses
A lot of leaders end up in the roles they’re in because their Type A people who don’t settle. They have high expectations of themselves and others and give everything 100%. That’s a good thing until it’s no longer a good thing. In the interest of mindful leadership, I want to raise the question of whether or not you should consider dialing it back a bit.
As an executive coach, I work with a lot of Type A leaders who always have the dial set to 10. When I run 360 degree feedback surveys for them, they tend to score low on behaviors like pacing themselves by building in breaks from work and differentiating between efforts that require perfection and those for which “good enough” is sufficient.
It’s easy for me to connect and empathize with this type of leader because I’m in recovery from the same syndrome of keeping the dial set all the way to the right. Like most recovery programs, it’s a process. Some days are better than others.
I’ve been paying more attention to where my clients and I have been setting our energy and intensity dials lately and have come up with three reasons why it can be a good idea to dial it back a bit.
Here they are:
Three Steps for Leaders Who Want to Work Better with Their Peers June 6 2013 one response
This weekend, President Obama will host the new president of China, Xi Jinping, for two days at a resort called Sunnyvale in Rancho Mirage, California. As reported in the New York Times and other outlets, the two leaders will spend a lot of time in relaxed and unscripted conversations with the goal of getting to know each other better.
While there are risks involved in such an approach, they seem to be outweighed by the potential rewards of the leaders of the world’s two biggest superpowers better understanding each other. Their approach holds a lesson for leaders in all walks of life who, like Obama and Xi, find themselves simultaneously collaborating and competing with their peers.
When people rely on each other without really knowing each other an information vacuum is created. Nature abhors a vacuum and, when it comes to leaders who depend on each other without knowing each other, that vacuum is often filled with assumptions, misperceptions and stories that the parties make up about each other.
I see this happen all the time in my executive coaching work with leaders. The most effective ones recognize the dynamic and take steps to counteract it. The more they get to know and trust their peers, the more they get done together.
How can you get the ball rolling on working better with your fellow leaders? Here are three steps to get started:
Mindful Mondays: Check Yourself Out June 3 2013 one response
So, you may be asking yourself, “What on earth does checking yourself out have to do with mindful leadership?” Fair question. If, by checking yourself out, we’re talking about sneaking in an admiring glance as you walk by a mirror or a storefront window, the answer is not much.
If, on the other hand, we’re talking about the modern day version of what Socrates meant when he said, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” then the answer is a lot.
I’d make the case that mindful leaders spend regular time checking themselves out. They question their assumptions. They check their motives. They figure out what pushes their buttons.
Interested in spending some time checking yourself out? Here’s a simple way to get started.
Three Ways to Increase Your Influence May 29 2013 no responses
Effective leadership is all about getting stuff done through and with other people. Even for the most powerful leaders (think of the President of the United States for instance) getting stuff done is more often about influence than it is authority.
In a recent conversation with a fellow executive coach and author, Joel Garfinkle, we brainstormed what influence is all about and simple, actionable ways that you can increase yours. As the author of Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level, Joel has done a ton of research, coaching and speaking on the topic so he was a great guy to talk with about influence.
With his permission, I recorded the conversation and you can listen to a six minute highlight of it for more on these three ideas from Joel on how to increase your influence
- Look for ways to get others to rely on you.
- Become a go to person.
- Leverage your allies.
What’s your experience? Is influence more important than authority? What’s worked for you in increasing your influence?
Seven Tips for Taming Your Calendar May 16 2013 one response
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post called Five Ways to Get Your Calendar Under Control. Since then, I’ve used it as the starting point for a conversation among high potential leaders in our Next Level Leadership® group coaching program. The framing questions for the group about the post are:
- What do you already do or agree with?
- What do you disagree with?
- What other calendar control ideas work for you?
As the inflow becomes heavier and the expectations become higher, taming the calendar beast is a common challenge for leaders. Here are seven of the best ideas I’ve heard lately from leaders who are figuring out how to leverage their time to get important stuff done:
Why Leaders Need to Be Indifferent May 9 2013 7 responses
A couple of months ago, I was talking with an executive leader I’ve known for a few years. One of the things I’ve noticed about him in that time is that his confidence has grown in a very appropriate and admirable way. I mentioned this to him and, in reply, he laughed softly and said, “It’s a fine line between confidence and indifference.”
That’s one of the best lines I’ve heard in recent memory because it’s funny and it’s true. Like most things that are funny, there’s an element of truth and recognition to it. The connection between confidence and indifference is that the right amount of indifference can lead to confidence. And the confidence that comes from indifference makes you a more effective leader.
Here’s what I mean by that:
Four Tips for Talking with the CEO May 2 2013 no responses
Does the thought of a brief conversation with the top executive in your organization stir up the butterflies in your stomach? If it does, you’re not alone. It’s basically a form of corporate stage fright that lots of people experience.
Over the years, I’ve had lots of conversations with both rising leaders and those that are already at the top of their organizations. The ones that are well intentioned want the same thing – the information and engaged people they need to lead a successful organization. That common ground can set you up for a brief but meaningful conversation with your CEO when the opportunity presents itself.
With that as a starting point, here are four tips for talking with the CEO:
Mindful Mondays – What I Learned About Perfectionism from Yoga April 29 2013 one response
The best coaching question I was ever asked was about 15 years ago when a woman who was coaching me while I was a corporate VP asked, “What would it take for you to stop judging yourself?”
That question hit me like a ton of bricks because it cut to the quick of my perfectionism and feeling like I never measured up to my own expectations. I’d like to be able to report that I was immediately transformed by the question and it was all sunshine and roses from there. That wasn’t the case, but, by raising the question, my coach succinctly framed something for me to work on for the next fifteen years.
Last week, during a yoga class, I realized that I still have opportunities here. You could say that I have a way to go before I perfect not being a perfectionist. Guessing that I may not be the only person reading (or writing) this post who’s a perfectionist, here’s an update on how I’m doing and what I’m noticing. There might be a point or two here that will resonate with you.
Mindful Mondays: Presence in Boston When It Mattered Most April 22 2013 2 responses
What a week it was for the city of Boston. It’s hard to believe that the citizens there went from the attack at the Boston Marathon to a citywide lockdown as police hunted for the surviving suspect to the celebratory singing of Sweet Caroline with Neil Diamond himself in an afternoon game at Fenway Park all within the span of five days. When I wrote about the resilience of Bostonians last week, I had no clue just how resilient they would prove to be.
There are so many leadership lessons to be learned from the Boston experience. The medical personnel and first responders on the day of the blast were amazing. Every victim who initially survived the explosions was saved. (Read this story by Atul Gawande for example after example of mindful leadership in Boston’s hospitals.) The coordination between local, state and Federal agencies was equally impressive. Their leaders kept everyone focused on a common goal. The public officials like Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick and Boston police commissioner Edward Davis were role models for leaders who need to keep people informed in a high stakes, rapidly changing situation.
There was a lot of mindful leadership in Boston last week, but what stands out for me the most was the leadership of the average citizens who tended to the victims in the moments just after the blasts. We’ve heard story after story of brave and compassionate people who provided critical first aid to the victims or simply sat or laid down with injured strangers to talk calmly with them, stroke their hair or do whatever they could to comfort them until help arrived.
Those people were fully and mindfully present with other human beings who desperately needed them to be. In many cases, their presence was literally life saving as it kept the victims from going into shock.
Fortunately, we’re not often called to be mindful and present in literal life and death situations. But, doesn’t it make you wonder how different life and work might be if each of us brought some fraction of that amount of mindful presence to every interaction we have with another person? What would it take to put down the smart phone or turn away from the computer and really tune into the other person?
There are three ways I can think of to make a start. Have the intention to be present. Take a deep breath to transition from whatever had your attention a moment ago. Make eye contact with the other person.
Where would you start? What would it take for you to follow through on that idea?
A Boston Marathon Memory and Hope April 18 2013 one response
There’s little I can add to what’s already been observed about the tragedy at the Boston Marathon this week. The horror, the heroism and the heartache will stay for a long time with everyone who experienced or witnessed it.
What I want to add to the conversation is my own memory of running the Marathon with my friend Tiffany when we were both graduate students in Boston back in 1987 and how that memory gives me hope today.
In those days, you were allowed to run in the back of the Boston pack with an unofficial number if you weren’t one of the qualified entrants. That’s where Tiffany and I were.
At the very front of the pack was a Boston legend named Johnny Kelley. He was the Marathon winner in 1935 and 1945. On that Patriot’s Day morning in 1987, he was 79 years old and preparing to run his 56th Boston Marathon. Being the legend that he was, Kelley was given the honor of being first off the starting line in Hopkinton, Mass with a healthy head start on the world class runners who were competing for the win.
About four miles into the race, Tiffany and I were cruising along at around a 7:30 minute a mile pace – way below the nine minute a mile pace we had planned to run. We looked over to our left and there was Johnny Kelley methodically running with his escort. We were thrilled to see him and waved and shouted, “Hi Mr. Kelley! Have a great race!” He gave us a slight nod as we ran past him.
So things were pretty great for Tiffany and me as we ran through Natick, past the women of Wellesley College and they were still pretty good as we crested Heartbreak Hill. It was on the downhill that my wheels came off. About three miles from the finish line, I hit the proverbial wall. (Tiffany, to her everlasting credit, did not.) As I was plodding my way to the finish I looked to my right and there was Johnny Kelley passing me back as if he was out on an easy jog. My 26 year old self had just been lapped by a 79 year old man.
It took me a few years to realize that it was an honor to get beat by Johnny Kelley in the Boston Marathon. That man, who passed away in 2004 at the age of 97, represents the indomitable spirit of the people of Boston. They’re down this week and, in our own small and indirect ways, we share their pain. But, just like Johnny Kelley, they’ll be back and blow past whoever was responsible for this week’s terror. That’s what resilient people like Bostonians do.