Intentional Leaders Podcast with Cyndi Wentland


Welcome to the Intentional Leaders Podcast with Cyndi Wentland. Where we’re all about creating confident, successful, and focused leaders who manage with purpose and impact. I’m Cyndi Wentland, the founder of Intentionaleaders. And I’m passionate about learning, teaching, and coaching on all things leadership related. My purpose is to equip leaders like you with the tools, resources, and support to accomplish your goals. To learn when you want, how you want. So, if you’re an aspiring leader, first-time manager, experienced executive, or you just want to make a bigger impact in your role as an individual contributor—this podcast is for you. Because each week we’ll focus on relevant, applicable, and easy to implement skills and practices—to create focus and a deliberate path to employee engagement and business results. I know that leadership has its challenges but learning to lead shouldn’t be one of them.

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Intentional Leaders Podcast Welcome Trailer
What do you do when someone is hurting?
__truncato_root__>I sometimes wonder if a day goes by that we don’t encounter someone who is hurting (and in this context, I’ll talk about emotional hurt).  And we’ll never really know because our encounters are so varied, work and life and the public which we will never know the depth or breathe of hurt we’re stumbling upon.But in this episode, I want to explore when we do know. When we see the signs, the cues, the facial expressions—which are often fleeting. And the reaction and actions we take to connect.Because human connection is something we all want, and we all need. If you’re looking to make a difference in your company, in your circle, in the universe, you want to honor this connection.And one of the most important ways we connect with others, establishing trust, rapport, understanding is through listening. Not just to the words, but what we see.I received a Christmas gift from a beautiful friend, it’s Brene Brown’s book, Atlas of the Heart.  If you’re interested in strengthening your emotional intelligence for work or life, this is an encyclopedia of insight. A few of us have started a book club to deepen our knowledge of her work. For months we’ve been sharing insights, reactions, and the stories of our lives. How these emotions have affected us not just in the workplace, which they definitely do, but also as human beings. Its been so splendidly illuminating and also vulnerable.Into the language of our emotions, she dives. And she dives deep. Giving words to the sensations that we experience yet have a hard time describing. And back to this week’s topic, our last book club. It was in Chapter 7. She described the differences between compassion, pity, sympathy, empathy. Finally, a way that compared and contrasted these emotions, so they made sense. And also, which bring us closer together, and those that don’t.What I found very fascinating, because I teach empathy in many of my classes, was what she wrote about empathy misses. Eight of them. When I saw this list I was full of awe. She had captured this comprehensive list, the areas that I hear---the pitfalls we’ve probably all fallen into. Unwittingly, and then also we affect the connection. The disconnect.Brene defines it this way, Empathy, the most powerful tool of compassion, is an emotional skill set that allows us to understand what someone is experiencing and to reflect back that understanding.Because when you listen to others, when you listen to yourself—see how many of these you can spot.Sympathy versus empathyJudgmentDisappointmentDischarging discomfort, with blameSpeaking truth to powerComparing/CompetingMinimize/AvoidAdvice giving/Problem solvingIf you find yourself falling into these common traps, scurry out as soon as you can. Empathize with focus and purpose. Identify the emotion. Label it to the best of your knowledge. Then add the “why.” Be there for those that are hurting. Be present with their pain. When you do this, you deepen trust and your connections to others. And isn’t that what we all want? Because while we don't know so many times when others around us are in pain, there are times that we do know. Let's not miss those opportunities to connect.Check us out! https://www.intentionaleaders.com/
3d ago
13 mins
Lessons Learned: An Interview with Dr. Shenita BrokenburrKnowledge is Power
If you are a leader, you have power. If you are an aspiring leader, or informal leader, you will need it. Power is about influence. It is about achieving results.Expert power is a lifelong commitment to knowledge or subject matter expertise. Gaining power thru knowledge is not as easy as it once was…years ago a person could focus on one deep area of knowledge and be influential. Today it’s also about serial learning. It’s not just about being deep in one area. (Example of an "M" versus a "T".)Beyond the knowledge of your expertise, there is the building of your brand. Because if you aren’t in a position to leverage your knowledge, where is the return on your investment?And my disclaimer in the use of this power is it can be used for good or evil. I’ve seen people, teams and organizations held hostage by the abuse of expert power. Meaning that an individual created damaging consequences because of their action or inaction…whether this was the hoarding of knowledge or a refusal to mentor, either way the power wasn’t used effectively. Here are 5 ways to use expert power constructively:1. Establish your unique combination of knowledge and skills. Consider what makes you valuable to your role, team and organization. Who are the experts in your field? What is their combination of genius? Write down 10 areas of strength, and then consider the combination of factors that allow you to contribute to your team or organization in a way that is powerful and impactful.  2. Never stop learning, focus on continuous knowledge. Always find something to learn.  Then own your growth. Do your research, don’t just ask, tell them the value that will be gained based on the learning experience. Help others to understand how the learning will be relevant and applicable. Help them to see the contributions you will make based on the investment. This is your job.3. Be an excellent trouble shooter. Use your knowledge and expertise to solve problems. Be at the ready when called on to use your unique set of skills, to leverage your knowledge. Make sure you know the problem clearly before weighing in on a solution. Meaning, understand the gap between what is and what your stakeholder needs, then provide sound, logical and meaningful input towards a solution. Which ties to #4.4. Be aware of your biases, be transparent with your opinions and assumptions.  Example: leadership classes, biases about learning design, facilitation and content.  I have to check my experience at the door. I need to open myself up to exploring new options, alternative practices, and many opinions about leadership or management that may not align with mine. It’s important that I revisit my beliefs and knowledge. To discover openly and honestly what I have yet to learn. And I will always find something. 5. Actively mentor and coach, while staying humble and kind. Is it a little scary to share your expertise, putting you in the position of irrelevance? Absolutely not. Because this is about your collective brand, something that you bring to the table beyond the knowledge, the way you share it, encourage others to learn and grow. It’s about having the patience to mentor, which not everyone has. It’s about coaching with kindness and humility building the confidence and competence of those around you. Leadership is about results. And to get results you have to influence others. Using expert power is a fantastic platform for leadership when executed thoughtfully and intentionally.  Keep these 5 tips in mind to be the one that everyone not only turns to, but actually wants to seek out for guidance, wisdom and support.Discover leadership development here!
May 10 2022
16 mins
Understand Your Superpowers
If you are a leader, you have power. If you are an aspiring leader, or informal leader, you will need it.Power is about influence. It is about achieving results.Sometimes it difficult to consider power without thinking of politics. Here are some thoughts from Art Petty:Unavoidable Facts of Organizational LifeEverywhere humans gather, a political environment emerges.In every political environment, some individuals develop more influence than others.Those who have the most influence decide what gets done and who does what.Influence doesn’t accrue accidentally—it takes deliberate effort to cultivate the right relationships.Back in 1959, two social psychologists John French and Bertram Raven studied and identified 5 bases of power. This was followed by Raven's subsequent addition in 1965 of a sixth separate and distinct base of power: informational power. And I’m going to add one more, because in the era of social media, I think there is power in the connections we have with one and other.French and Raven defined social influence as "a change in the belief, attitude, or behavior of a person (the target of influence) which results from the action of another person (an influencing agent)", and they defined social power as the potential for such influence, that is, the ability of the agent to bring about such a change using available resources. This means getting s#@&* done.Here are the types of Positional/Formal power:1. Legitimate2. Reward 3. CoercivePersonal/Informal power:4.  Expert5. Referent6. Informational7. ConnectionUnderstand what you have, and what you want more of. Cultivate your power bases. Power can be used positively or negatively. Negative Examples:Legitimate power = relying on status to get compliance; do it because I said so, implied threatReward = get when you give, or I withhold until you doCoercive = embarrassing others in a meeting, yelling publiclyExpert = withholding information to retain status or security in the role; not changing as work standards change, becoming biases in knowledge from past experiencesReferent = using charm and likability to get what is needed in a way that manipulates others OR excludes othersInformational = sharing confidential information to “build trust” with someone else; withholding information that can be shared but is notConnection power = being a name dropper, using a connection with someone who has power to manipulate or pressure someone elsePart of understanding these power bases is knowing what your superpowers are. You always have power, it’s a matter of knowing what it is, how to strengthen it and how to get more of it. To the extent you want to lead, you will need to focus on power. As I said power is influence. If you’re early on in your career, and an aspiring manager or leader—lean into your interpersonal skills. Referent power, or likability can go a long way to building rapport, trust and credibility. In fact, Susan Fiske, Amy Cuddy and Peter Glick did research on how we form impressions and the two areas that were identified (across 37 countries) were warmth and competence. So the combination of referent and expert power can be very impactful. And because so many of us listening to this podcast are working managers, meaning you have subject matter expertise and you are leading people, next episode we’ll talk about best practices for honing and thoughtfully applying expert power.To strengthen your leadership practices, check out our new monthly workshop series!
May 3 2022
19 mins
Who me?! A micromanager? No way.
LinkedIn reported that 79% of employees have been micromanaged at least once in their career. Micromanaging is controlling every part, however small, of (an enterprise or activity).It typically indicates lack of trust, freedom—the opposite of empowerment. It is a double whammy in being a demotivator and also “threat” to our need for autonomy.  And results in:anxiety & stresslack of learning/developmentpoor role model = control as a management stylemiss out on becoming a good problem solverdecreases performance and productivitydisengagement7 kinds of micromanagement (by John Spacey):Supervision: your goals and resultsWorking style: my way is the best wayInternal control: operating procedures, strict beyond the quality aspect—won’t explore the reasoning, the why, the purpose or the valueJob depth: authority and freedom as a valued contributorDefense of status quo: we’ve always done it that way; closed mindedness; lack of flexibility; negatively reinforces creativity, innovationPerfectionism: is a lie; unattainable for us as leaders and for our teams. are you holding out for perfection? asking others to be perfect?Criticism: focus on what you need to improve, finding the flaws first, noticing them first  How to talk about it?  #1 is to be assertive and use assertive language. Have a conversation about your feelings, needs and wants--also discovering their needs (and fears).Examples:·      Goals/results:  I’ve noticed that you set a date for a project deadline, and then follow up regularly with me, checking in on the status. Help me understand what you need or what I could be providing to you to reassure you I’m on track.·       Style: I would like to have more autonomy in my role. How can we achieve that?·       Job depth: It’s important to me to continue to grow and contribute more in my role. How can you help me to develop in my current role, and set me up for future roles?·       Controls/Status quo:  I recognize the importance of clear processes and procedures; I also want to share my thoughts or ideas about improvements and innovation. How can I best bring up these ideas I have and share them with you?The challenge is,  to flourish we need trust, freedom, growth. If you are in the situation and have tried to facilitate change with professionalism, respect and grace—it may be time to escalate the situation, or it may be time for a job change. And, if you see yourself in some way in this podcast episode, take this awareness seriously. Ask for help (mentor, coach, boss) in learning new approaches to exploring the beliefs that are creating these patterns, and actively shifting these behaviors. After all, do you really want to be the person that employees identify in a class that micromanaged them? Lead with focus and clarity: Check out our new monthly workshops!
Apr 26 2022
16 mins
Feedback is a gift, right?
It’s said that feedback is a gift, right? That we should receive it as such, as a kindness and opportunity to learn. It’s helpful to know how to react, and that your reactions do matter. Not just for the person that is gifting you the feedback, for you as well.I saw a list awhile back of all the ways we deflect. There were 13 ways, Can you imagine? I can because I just got some feedback last week. And maybe a lot of these did go thru my head. Typical reactions:Flight: Victim: not my fault, minimize, deny, avoidFight: go aggressive: blame, attack, counterAwkward: joke, exaggerate, invalidateBack to my example of feedback I received last week. Someone came to me after the session and was not appreciative of an example I used. The perception was that I was making fun of a new idea. The long and short of it was I was simultaneously trying to understand the feedback and see her point of view, while being so surprised at the perception. I actually thought the idea was incredibly innovative and creative, so creating the perception of the opposite was hard to wrap my head around.How we handle the feedback says a lot about our confidence and esteem. We need to be open to the perspectives of others to learn and grow. We need to consider our blind spots and areas that we aren’t even cognizant of, to strengthen these. Because I believe the best leaders are also the lifelong learners. They open themselves up to self-examination, and self-awareness only takes us so far. We need feedback to change and evolve. Ironically the more experience we have, or the more power we have in our leadership role—the less likely we are to be provided with the honest, transparent, and candid feedback. Because the risk to those around us is sometimes perceived as too great.So when we do, focus on it gracefully and gratefully. Which means we have to acknowledge our body and brain’s protective mechanisms, which will surely jump in.Here are 4 tips to process feedback effectively:1.      Breathe (aka take a Pause)Breathing brings oxygen to your brain. It allows you time to bring your thoughts and emotions to the surface.Breathing and pausing allows you to respond rather than react. This is a choice that must be made deliberately.2.     Notice Your ThoughtsBe an observer of your thoughts and reactions when others provide feedback. Negative emotions are caused by your thoughts.Be open about your fears (if possible) and/or understand yourself what you are making the feedback “mean” about you.3.     Seek to UnderstandRemain calm.Try to separate the content from the messenger and/or the way the message was delivered. Find the nugget of truth or learning.Avoid reacting defensively and/or attempting to rationalize your actions.Ask questions to understand.Press for details or examples (in a non-defensive manner).Make amends if appropriate. 4.     Express GratitudeFeedback is a gift and those that can give and receive it have the strongest and most trusting relationships with others.  Be graceful and grateful for the opportunity to learn.  At the end of the day, I am appreciative of the perspectives of others. I want to learn a different point of view. I am a lifelong learner, not only about learning leadership lessons to share with others, but to those that I receive about myself. My own behaviors and actions. And when my message is not aligned with my intentions.I learned a lot from the experience last week, that this is a lifelong practice. Getting comfortable with spontaneous feedback received in the moment, so much more challenging than teaching it.
Apr 19 2022
13 mins
Leadership Lessons: An Interview with Chad Melnick, SVP KohlsAre you addicted to urgency?
I vividly remember one of the first I’ll call it self help books I read, Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and then his subsequent work, First Things First.This was all pretty groundbreaking for me, taught to work hard, then work hard, and well, keep going and well, you know the rest.“Anything less than a conscious commitment to the important is an unconscious commitment to the unimportant.” Whoa. Well this weekend I was dusting off some materials on time management, so the words and principles of Covey were front and center. And it was interesting to think that the concept of time management, the inherent practices and challenges have always been less about managing your time it’s always been about managing yourself.And this is the biggest challenge to us each day. Not only as leaders, or employees working hard to make a difference, but also as human beings. How are we spending our time and are we spending time in a way aligned with our goals, priorities, purpose and values.The Eisenhower Matrix is a graphical tool used to prioritize tasks by ranking them on two key attributes: Importance and Urgency. The Eisenhower Matrix was derived from a quote attributed to former U.S. leader Dwight D. Eisenhower.“I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” Over 3 decades later in his best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey repackaged Eisenhower’s insights into a simple tool to prioritize tasks, now known as the Eisenhower Matrix. This framework for prioritization helps you combat the urgency addition while making progress on important goals. The addiction to urgency: creates predictable reliable sensationsbecomes our focus, and absorbs our attentionprovides an artificial sense of self-worth, power, control, security, intimacy and accomplishmentexacerbates the problems and feelings it is sought to remedyworsens functioning, creates loss of relationships Now that you know…what can you do? 1.     Track your time. For a day, for a week. Look for patterns. Assess your level of self-awareness and your subsequent ability to choose on purpose. This is critical to making changes, you need to be aware of what your current practices and challenges are to make even incremental changes. 2.     Spend some quality time considering what belongs in Q2 for you. What goals do you have (personal or professional), or development do you need to be more effective? If you want to be more proactive and who doesn’t, think about what you would do with time to spend in Q2. 3.     If you’re coaching others and they are coming to you with problems and no solutions, spend time coaching them out of Q3. Meaning they are relying on your, they’re dependent on you to do the work or fix the problem or provide direction (and maybe they need to be more autonomous?). Again, keeping track of these requests you receive in Q3 will help you to be a more targeted and effective coach.4.     Be mindful of Q4. There are times when doing mindless things is great. We need to decompress. Certain activities give us diminishing returns when used excessively.  This is about immediate gratification, which can leave us feeling guilty and unfulfilled.
Apr 5 2022
18 mins
What are you willing to stand up for?
Last week after a training session, I had an interesting conversation with a couple of participants. The class was about negotiating work assignments, difficult for most of us—saying no or even entering into a conversation about our capacity or capabilities is difficult. For many of us, we just suck it up and say yes. And then try our hardest to make it work, compromising ourselves, our stress, our families….and over time, our health and wellbeing. One young professional said, I didn’t know that saying no was even an option, I was never taught how.NOTE: I was not advocating for going around saying NO to everything, rather being cognizant of your own capabilities, capacity and needs so that you can say yes without compromising quality or yourself; then negotiating on assignments from a place of partnership and collaboration.But this conversation was not specifically about negotiating a work assignment. It was about being assertive. The rights that you have. Understanding them, being clear on them. Honoring them, communicating them. And ultimately being clear on the boundaries around you to protect your values. The example was about standing up for something. In this case, the “someone’s” who were left off an email that was an acknowledgement of efforts on a project. Some of the people who worked on the project were excluded from the communication (the women versus the men).And an individual noticed this and brought it up. Now I may not have all the details completely, but what struck me was at the core of the example. Notice it? Bring it up? I was impressed because at that point in my career (aka early on) would I be the one to bring it up? Notice it, probably yes. Do something with it? and I kept thinking…. What are you willing to stand up for? Because each day we could notice situations like this one. And while there are big bold moves we can make in life to advocate for those who are wronged, those who are being harmed in a big way or on a large scale...we have to recognize that standing up for something or someone can also be an everyday act. Smaller scale, but in the moment we see something and recognize we have a choice to make. What you’re willing to stand up for involves many layers. It starts with your values. What do you care about? Integrity? Equality? Diversity? Accountability? What are the core beliefs that you want to advocate for? Your values provide clarity, focus and purpose.Then there is the noticing. The young man who notices that the women were excluded on an email communication. Not everyone even notices this detail. Or if it’s noticed, that it’s problematic. And then it is about taking action. And I don’t mean we run around see a potential “wrong” and assume bad intentions. Because the mindset of “catching” someone is different from noticing and inquiring. Giving someone a chance to respond, to clarify, or maybe to come to the realization that they harmed someone else through their words or actions. This is a purposeful strategy, designed to educate, create change. And live the values you care most about.I believe that leadership is not about tiles, or roles or positions. It’s about being clear on your vision and values and purpose. It’s about knowing who you are and how you want to contribute to the success of the world.  And the scope and scale of that world gets to be defined by you. Big or small, wide or narrow, the scale is less relevant than the deliberate choice and the courage to act.Ask yourself….are you willing to engage and advocate for something or someone you believe it? Are you willing to ask the tough questions, in a respectful way? Willing to look awkward? Willing to feel uncomfortable? Willing to be wrong in your conclusions, despite being right in your intentions?It starts first with knowing you. Pay attention. And make a conscious choice.
Mar 29 2022
10 mins
Diagnosing Conflicts: What is really going on?
I know this sounds weird, but I love teaching classes on conflict. Because it’s so freakin’ stressful and most of us don’t like dealing with it. So, we avoid it. (See EP 54 Conflict Sucks ). And there are some darn good reasons, sadly we don’t think of the long term damage that lingering conflict does to trust and rapport. And our stress levels.In this episode think about a recent conflict that you’ve had, or perhaps one that you had to coach an employee on. Which is also an important perspective, because research suggests that when we are good role models for conflict, our employees become more effective at it as well. The dark side is that most employees don’t think their managers are good at it. Yikes. This is an important area to master.Do you have the example in mind? I am going to share 6 common types of conflict. I am not sure of the original source for these types and their explanation. I’m confident that that you’ll see how they align in your scenario, they make so much sense.And the important part of knowing the type? You’ll be better equipped to navigate the conflict. I won’t say it will be easy, but it will be easier if you know foundationally where the conflict is coming from. The first type of conflict is interpersonal. The second is a difference in goals. Number three is about limited resources. This is about scarcity. Whenever we don’t have enough money, time or resources. The fourth is about values. Number five is about performance problems.And the last, number six, is about power struggles. A power struggle is any use of power in a way that is not constructive. Now that I’ve described the six, which were incorporated in your example? There absolutely can be more than one, and yes, all six can sometimes be involved. If this happens, we have to determine which is at the core, or which is most actionable in terms of starting the conversation to navigate the conflict.It’s important to know this, and be clear on what the conflict is, and also what it isn’t. Because this makes our strategy to resolve the conflict more deliberate. Like when your mom told you to avoid the values discussions. This is an excellent conflict choice when the value doesn’t affect our work or the quality of the outcomes we need to produce together. When it’s a matter of limited resources, compromise can be an excellent strategy. Compromise is something that most of us are used to doing, it’s a form of bargaining, we look at the facts and data and make choices, with both parties bending a little to get to an acceptable solution.And sometimes, it’s okay to accommodate to someone else. Let them have their way, so to speak, especially when it causes no particular harm to you (remember Jo, messy and disorganized and still gets it done, you can choose to let this go—it’s just Jo).Next time you or those around you are in a conflict, remember the six types:interpersonalgoalslimited resourcesvaluesPoor performancePower strugglesIdentify which are occurring and use this as a foundation for the discussion and the strategy you use to resolve the conflict. NOTE: For more insight on how you handle conflicts, consider the Everything DiSC Conflict assessment for you or your team. This tool helps individuals curb destructive behaviors so that conflict can become more productive, ultimately improving workplace results and relationships.
Mar 22 2022
11 mins
Strengthen Critical Thinking & Collaboration with the 6 Thinking Hats
How often do you have the same old meeting, the same old discussion? You know the one, negative Nelly is well, as brooding as always, because we’re still virtual half of our attendees are multitasking, you are pulling every trick out of the book to engage people in the discussion…because you want their insights….and you need their input.It's time. Time for a new strategy, and one that is so easy to implement. You will love it. It’s called the 6Thinking Hats.Developed by Dr. Edward de Bono in the early 80’s, a Maltese physician, psychologist and philosopher.  This technique encourages critical thinking, and also results in engagement and collaboration.Here’s how it works. Each of 6 hats represent a different lens in which a participant(s) approaches the problem, discussion or decision.White Hat: Is about information and data. This perspective is neutral and objective.Answer who, what, when and where?What do we know?What are the facts?What is the evidence?What information is needed?Green Hat: Is all about creative thinking. The focus is on ideas, alternatives and possibilities. What if we…?How can we make this work?What alternatives have we not explored?Red Hat: The purpose of the red hat is to focus on feelings and instincts/intuition.  The expression of feelings doesn’t require explanation or rationalization. What are your feelings about this?What bothers you? What does your gut tell you?What biases are present?Yellow Hat: This hat is focused on the benefits and values, why the idea/solution will work. While it is focused on the positive, there are also reasons given (versus just a sunny disposition or generalized positivity).How will this be beneficial?What value will this provide to others?What would be the most positive outcome?Black Hat: The black hat is about caution and risk. It’s about identifying difficulties, dangers and weaknesses in the plans and/or decisions. While it is about spotting risk, it’s also about applying logic (versus red hat).Why won’t this work?What are the negative consequences?What will be most difficult?What are the risks?Blue Hat: This hat is about managing the collective thinking; organization and planning.  It is focused on thinking about the quality of thinking and the information, actions and/or decisions made. It is also about planning for actions.What is the main idea being discussed?What is the sequence of events and/or actions?What is the conclusion?What is our action plan?I’m asked should the hats be assigned based on participants natural strengths? Know your group and your purpose. If you’re in a hurry, assign to what people are naturally good at. When you are trying to broaden thinking and skills, provide an opportunity outside of an individual’s’ natural comfort zone. For me, that might be the black hat. I don’t like to focus on the negative elements of a solution and/or decision, but often miss out on identifying and preventing risks and consequences that could occur. I can strengthen this mental muscle on purpose and it would broaden my perspective.This technique offers so many benefits:  improving the completeness of the thinking of the group by providing a comprehensive structure, it inspires creativity, and encourages engagement and inclusivity.  And by using this technique you will also strengthen communication skills—as it drives listening, Last but not least…it can be fun.
Mar 15 2022
15 mins
Leadership Lessons: An Interview with Andy Platz, Pres/CEO Mead&HuntBeware! 3 Manager Pitfalls
Moving from contributing to getting work done through others is a painful experience for many of us. In my work with managers over the years, here are 3 manager pitfalls that I frequently see:Power confusionIneffective communication: expectations and feedbackDoing not delegating#1: There are various kinds of power: legitimate, meaning you have the title and role of manager, lead worker, supervisor, director or the like. Reinforcement (Reward) and coercive typically are associate with legitimate power because we have responsibility to hold others accountable (+ and -).Then there is expert power, you have strong technical or subject matter knowledge. And referent power, meaning you are likable, warm, and others want to follow you because of your interpersonal effectiveness. When push comes to shove, and the work needs to get done, I observe that first time managers tend to resort to legitimate power quickly (a “do what I tell you to do” without questions or engagement). What I also see is the overuse of reinforcement power to reward employees. Or the other side of the continuum is overextending on the referent power, like we’re all buddies, friends, and people like me so they’ll do what they should do, right? How do we appropriately balance power dynamics?Power dynamics tends to be affected and managed by working on Pitfall #2, which is about expectations. Creating clarity in roles/responsibilities. And not only goals, your expectations as well. And while you are using legitimate power (appropriately) to assign tasks and responsibilities, use referent power to explain the purpose and the why of the work. Take the time to explain the value of what each person is doing and what they are contributing to in a meaningful way. This will engage employees in their work far beyond what a doughnut, gift card or pat on the back ALONE will do.I would bet that there is something that every manager is withholding an expectation and feedback from an employee. Something that they want to say, need to say and just cannot say. Get the thoughts on expectations out of your head and into the minds and practices of employees. And then focus on Pitfall #3, doing not delegating.What problems does not delegating cause for managers?not focusing on the right tasks (tactical, operational versus operating at a higher level)doing things they already know how to do stress/anxietycapacity issuesnot developing teamresentment of teamaccountability issues with teamLet go of the fears and excuses to provide employees with responsibility, growth, opportunities, and the engagement to contribute at a higher level.  To explore this, including an action planner, check out Delegation: Lean into your fears.Avoid these pitfalls:1.     Increase self-awareness: managing is hard, most are not trained to do it, and these pitfalls are very common. 2.     Have clarity in your habits, practices and skills: Start by working first on clear responsibilities, including goals and expectations. This is the starting point of effective performance and team cohesiveness.  3.     Focus on and overcome the obstacles that limit our ability to change. This is primarily our own brain, our bad habits, and the time/investment it takes for growth. Summary: Start with pitfall #2, enhance with an understanding of pitfall #1, and complement your own growth and those around you by avoiding pitfall #3.Choose confidence, choose success.
Mar 1 2022
17 mins
Why you need to learn to forgive. Grudges, resentment, and spite—oh my!
I read some recent statistics that around 77% of employees experience physical effects of stress and 63% of employees are ready to quit their jobs due to stress. But this episode is not about those external factors that affect us all—that wear at our emotional fortitude. No, this is about the people in your workplace that have harmed you.Take a pause right now and consider those who’ve negatively affected you at work (directly or indirectly). Yes, channel the resentment, just hold it for a moment. Let’s explore releasing the grudges, the resentment, or even the spite. Today, let’s talk forgiveness.BUT these people were TERRIBLE, their behaviors were [ awful / hurtful / selfish / condescending / meanspirited / stupid / fill-in-your-own-blank ] Yes. But we're not talking about their behavior. We’re talking about your inner peace.Because as you dredge up these memories, as you consider all the wrongs, the bitterness and resentment…as you channel those feelings, here’s a thought to consider. These people are NOT thinking about you. Do you think that they’re feeling guilty or responsible for your angst? That they wake up in the morning committed to “doing better?” To work hard to earn your forgiveness? It’s actually quite ironic, isn’t it? The extremely high probability that they’re not thinking of you at all.I was exposed to a book many years ago that profoundly impacted the way I think about forgiveness.  I’ve given the book as a gift both literally and figuratively. Because forgiveness is a gift, we give ourselves.Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good. He helped me reframe what forgiveness was and also what it wasn’t. This was profound.Forgiveness is not:condoning unkindness or excusing poor behaviorforgetting the paindenying or minimizing hurt or feelingsreconciliationForgiveness is:peace for you, your healingtaking responsibility for how you feeltaking back your powera choicebecoming a hero rather than a victimForgiveness is about the present moment. It means making a choice today, about a situation in the past. It’s about feeling better today, and being clear about the situation, then choosing to overcome the negative emotions.  This is about how you want to feel about yourself and your life. Maybe you’re willing to explore what it would feel like not to feel the way you do about your past or current situation. Maybe you are willing to open the door to peace. But how?Start with clarity. Identify the feelings, identify the behaviors/actions that “harmed” you. And talk about them. Discover the emotions, clarify the why. Consider how you’re telling the story.  Consider why you’re choosing to tell the story in that way.And let it go. Because do you want to be the victim in your story? Or do you want to be the hero overcoming the challenges that were tossed your way? Do you want to be the one that was able to rise above the dysfunction and be stronger for it?If you want to release the resentment:Define the perceived wrongClarify your emotions (past and present)Decide how you want to think about the situation with you as the victorChoose the emotion you want to experienceReframe and retell the storyFor more help: order the book or get coaching! I've helped a lot of people, let it go!My mantra: “Forgive everyone everything.” Because I give myself the gift of inner peace. You can too.
Feb 22 2022
14 mins
Why are soft skills so hard? (Probably because they're vital to our success!)
I have been working with organizations, employee development and leadership for over 30 years. And you know what? I have very rarely faced performance issues that have to do with pure lack of technical knowledge, or the actual capacity to do the job. When an individual is just not the right fit based on mental and/or physical capabilities. I have however experienced an overwhelming number of challenges in soft skills gaps. At their core, these are the skills that define how you work and how you interact with other people. They are important in all roles and all organizations. So, I often wonder why they are even called soft, which sounds fluffy—when in fact they are so many times, the key difference between success and failure.And that is precisely why they are so hard. They are hard to define. They’re squishy. And hard to prioritize. Soft skills make you an effective employee. They provide you with the tools to create strong and powerful relationships. They give you leadership impact. The ability to motivate and influence. The power to inspire.  They're hard because there are so many of them to learn and master. Which are the most important for the job you have and the job you aspire to have in the future? How do you get these vital skills?Sometimes your employer helps you out. And does the heavy lifting for you. When that happens it’s great. It provides a roadmap for your success. I’ve been involved in the development of many competency models.  A competency model is a framework of the skills required in a job, or organization. The organizational approach means there is a definition of the skills everyone needs to demonstrate to be successful in the company. The skills are then prioritized. Because we simply cannot expect every employee to demonstrate every soft skill effectively. And by not having some type of standard, that is kind of what we are saying.  And in the defining and prioritizing, we can then assess and train. Which has also been at the core of what I’ve done for decades, so in my unbiased perspective, this is incredibly valuable.There is significant value in this process, because then there is a path for employees to follow. A roadmap to success and career development. And we want that, the map to growth and mastery. Creating an environment in which I know how to contribute, how to grow, is an employment differentiator. And the ability to master new skills is also intrinsically motivating. And this leads to improved engagement. Here’s a process to follow:1.      Engage top leaders and performers to define the most critical skills that drive success in your particular industry and organization. 2.      Prioritize the list: scrutinize and select which are most vital; this is a challenge. Less is better, ideal being between 4 and 7.3.      Define each competency behaviorally. Meaning define what makes each competency actionable.4.     Then weave the framework, the skills into your organizational fabric, meaning performance and salary reviews, communications, learning and development, manager training, hiring practices, reward systems, etc.5.     When providing learning experiences, reinforce the skills that will be developed during the training.6.    Reinforce the competencies and expectations whenever and however you can. And then do it some more. Because information is rampant and we’re overwhelmed, we need focus and clarity.Soft skills are hard because there is a lack of clarity in what is essential. When everything is important, nothing is important. Drive or support this process! Then tackle the hard job of learning the soft skills.Be the best leader you know, learn more now!
Feb 15 2022
11 mins
Oh, the workplace drama!
Let’s talk drama. For most of us, we’ve experienced it, we tend to know what it is…and I hear about it quite frequently from managers I work with.  We’ll focus on some of the reasons why it happens, and most importantly what to do about it.Starting with why.I mean, seriously why does this happen in professional adult environments? I am attention seeking: I want people to notice me, I want recognition, attention, and you listening to me is reinforcing. I am important.My status: I love knowing something that no one else knows and I get to tell others about it, this also reinforces my status, I am “in the know" which gives me power.And chances are, I have low emotional intelligence (self awareness and/or self management); I don’t realize that what I am doing is affecting my own credibility negatively and/or I do and don’t “care.” I don’t consider the consequences of my behaviors on my integrity. There may be a gap in the integrity I think I have relative to what I truly have in the eyes of others.There is a lack of expectations on appropriate behavior: for example, there is nothing in place that states clearly, “Don’t talk behind others’ back. It’s disrespectful and undermines trust."  No one is saying, “You are doing this. Stop.”I am not held accountable to stop destructive and annoying behaviors: there are no consequences.While it’s important to know why it occurs, we also have to be very clear what it means. Define it. For you. Because what you think and feel is “dramatic” is probably quite different from someone else. To some strong emotional reactions, unfiltered emotional responses may be more commonplace. If you are in the role to manage the environment, to make it more trusting, positive and supportive, then consider your standards and expectations. What are appropriate standards that are important to you? And from there, we manage it.  Starting with…1.      Set expectations for constructive behaviors; establish the vision for what you want and expect in the workplace; create the vision; set the standards.2.     Label the ineffective behavior clearly, make sure you are focusing on actions—and things that you can hear or see concretely, not abstractions or generalizations. For example:Gossiping about othersTalking about someone’s intentions and judging them (particularly without knowing them); aka not assuming positive intentionsTalking negative about someone behind their backOverexaggerating a problem (explain facts/data/specifics versus exaggerations)Not differentiating between facts versus opinionsUsing aggressive or passive aggressive languageSwearing, yelling, throwing, name callingSabotaging decisions/changesBlaming, deflecting, whining,LyingUndermining someone else’s credibility3.     Address the “drama” as it arises.4.     Strengthen emotional intelligence across your team/organization; self-awareness and self-management is key to change.If you’re in a leadership role, you are responsible for the environment. What you ignore, sadly you condone. So, clean up these behaviors that are energy draining, morale depleting and soul sucking.And if you’re not in a leadership role, to create this change remember Cheryl Richardson’s stance:  "Just because some people are fueled by drama doesn't mean you have to attend the performance. " Get confident daily showing up as a leader regardless of your role or title, learn more now!
Feb 8 2022
15 mins
There are many ways to decide, are you choosing intentionally?
The leader gets to decide how to decide. Think about that a little.  I’d also encourage you to consider how leaders you’ve worked with have decided. There are a lot of options. Some of which are more inclusive than others. Recognize the choice they made and the impact on you and the organization. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. If we think from a spectrum perspective, let's say on the very left side is the authoritative stance. I decide on my own and take action. Or I could inform the rest of the leadership team of what I am doing, or I could consult with them…maybe even engaging them in the process. But I still decide. But truly, as the leader I get to decide how I want to decide. Maybe doing this on my own for some reason actually is the best strategy for me and the organization and the team right now. I have to deal with the sense of shock, confusion and betrayal my team might experience. I do need to understand and manage the consequences of my decision and the way I decided.Or I could choose to be more inclusive; there are options. I could have several viable candidates and we use the democratic method; we vote with the majority winning. I could also try to seek a consenting approach, meaning I ask everyone to default to buying in and supporting the majority decision and to only speak up if they can’t live with a decision. Lastly, I could choose to decide by consensus, meaning everyone has to agree. While the most collaborative option, this approach is time consuming, fraught with possible emotions and biases, particularly in a high stake’s decision.To be a more inclusive leader, I get to choose a democratic, consenting or consensus option. And again, also to know the advantages and disadvantages of each.Now, let’s look at it through the lens of the team. I think the really important message here is that most times, these processes happen without thought, planning and discussion. Because if I am that collaborative and inclusive leader then you also have some responsibility in the decision-making process, Again, think of this as a spectrum from left to right. On the left side, you’re in favor of, or support the decision. The next choice is, you’re okay with the decision, but you have reservations. The third option is mixed feelings. Or lastly, I have the right to veto the candidate—this is the very right side of the continuum, where I cannot accept the decision. In this case as well, it's important to be thoughtful, articulate, and clear about the why. Being able to explain my rationale and choice.In your team, are you deciding intentionally? As a leader you have choices from:·       Authoritative: fully own/do; inform; consult·       Collaborative: democratic; consent; consensusAnd if you are participating in collaborative decision making, you could have the following spectrum of choices:·       In favor of·       Okay with reservations (communicated)·       Mixed feelings (supported with thoughts, examples, specifics)·       Not in favor, but will commit/support·       Veto The important message here is that in the absence of deciding how to decide, the leader typically chooses, and sometime people judge those choices. Maybe because they want more input, maybe because they truly disagree, maybe because the leader does it differently every time, and it’s confusing and disempowering. Decide how to decide so that in the leadership team (or any team) the decision is more effectively supported. Decide to decide so that decision is implemented respectfully, effectively, and sustainably. Decide the Leader you want to be!
Feb 1 2022
17 mins
Conflict sucks. Until you consider the alternative.
Look up the definition of conflict and here are some of the words you’ll see:  serious disagreement or argument, protracted one, dispute, quarrel,incompatible, variance, clash, irreconcilableSo who jumps out of bed and goes into work wanting to tackle conflict? Because if we actually do address the conflict and actually TALK to the person about it….well, it could hurt their feelings, or it might make the situation worse, and it takes time and energy, and it probably won’t change anything anyway, and it will be uncomfortable, and it really doesn’t matter, or it could damage the relationship, and there’s really no urgency, and they might get mad, or we’re just waiting for the perfect moment, or we don’t have authority, plus, we’re tired. Its just. Not. Worth. It.These thoughts are deceptively powerful, because they frame possible outcomes of a discussion in the negative. Meaning, here are all the reasons I should NOT address the conflict. Here are the myriad of reasons why I can’t/won’t/don’t want to address the situation.These are the very thoughts that keep us stuck. Stuck in the problem, after all the conflict doesn’t necessarily go away. Do you really think these thoughts, stuck in our head don’t affect our actions and relationship with the other person? Yes, they do. And over time, they can result in even more damage to the relationship. And the environment.Let’s look at Betsy and Bob. Betsy and Bob are co-workers. Bob said something snarky to Betsy in a meeting. She was surprised and insulted. After fuming for a period, she said something to Bob. [Paraphrased] “Like hey, what up Bob why did you dis me in that meeting?” Bob was like, [also paraphrased], “Oh don’t pay any attention to what I say. I was just joking around.”Betsy didn’t buy it. The problem didn’t go away. And both Bob and Betsy knew it. And they both talked to others about it….”Can you believe he said that!?” and “Can you believe she did that!?”  And the unresolved feelings, and the lack of trust. The lack of teamwork, and collaboration.All it takes is one little thing. But little things become big things. And most conflicts are so much more complicated that what Bob and Betsy are facing. No wonder we don’t want to deal with it.The reality is that conflict doesn’t suck. The avoidance of conflict, and ongoing damage to relationships and to the work environment really suck. Because they are avoidable consequences.This doesn’t mean we jump out of our beds, brimming with excitement because we FINALLY get to have that conversation that we’ve been avoiding for months. It just means that the feelings of trepidation and anxiety are normal, they’re part of the problem solving process. We opt to solve the problem; we opt for collaboration. We opt to talk and to listen.Because resolving conflict constructively and effectively in a relationship actually builds trust. It shows us that we can navigate through our differences and come out the other side stronger.What can you do to reframe the value of conflict? Think about an unresolved conflict.Consider the following: o What is the current cost of this conflict to you? to the other person? to your team? to your organization? o What are the consequences to you if the conflict goes unresolved?  o What are the benefits to you to resolve the conflict? This is a kind of pro and con analysis. But ironically the more cons there are, the more we have at stake if we do NOT resolve the conflict. Have courage. Take the chance. Don’t be Betsy and Bob.NOTE: For more insight on how you handle conflicts, consider the Everything DiSC Conflict assessment for you or your team. This tool helps individuals curb destructive behaviors so that conflict can become more productive, ultimately improving workplace results and relationships.
Jan 25 2022
10 mins
Got empathy? Cuz right now, we all need more of it.
Some of us are wired naturally to express empathy, to be aware of and in tune with others’ feelings.  Some of us, not so much. If you want to be effective as a leader, and well, as a human being, you need to understand and strengthen your empathetic side. Social awareness or empathy, is the ability to recognize and understand moods of those around us. Reading emotions of others as we interact one on one, and in a group-setting is vital to effective communication and building trust.Ironically,  in our personal and professional lives we need this more than ever. At the same time, our capacity to extend it to others is  pretty compromised. Right now,  we're  emotionally drained. So how in the world do we tap into empathy, particularly if we’re not wired this way to begin with?Empathy is not about agreeing with the emotions of others,  it’s trying to understand the other person’s emotions and the context around them. It’s also not about sympathizing with them, feeling sad or sorry for others, pitying them. Empathy is about the others’ experience.  Not judging.  Caring.Tip 1:be mindful of cues. Maintaining eye contact is the key to noting facial and body cues that give us invaluable information on others’ feelings. When we listen dichotically,  splitting our attention in any way we miss so much. This is at the heart of empathy because facial expressions typically last between 0.5 and 4 seconds and involve the entire face. Some of these cues are extremely subtle. If we're not watching, we're missing vital information. Tip 2: keep our opinions to ourselves. Empathy is not about us. Our opinions, examples, and “stories” can detract from a focus on the other person’s experience.  Our job is to see their point of view without including our own perspective. It doesn’t mean we can’t share, but connect  first, honor their feelings and emotions first.  And avoid the very ineffective catch phrase, "I understand how you feel."Tip 3: identify their feelings and paraphrase their words.  This means communicate back what we believe they are experiencing (labelling emotions and the “why”). There’s research that suggests that there is much value in being able to accurately label emotions. This allows us to more fully process it, to respond to it more constructively. To make sense of the emotions, we have to try to label them.Which is harder than it sounds because based on research by Brene Brown, people are typically only about to accurately label about 3 emotions, sadness, happiness and anger. While the spectrum of emotions is so much more significant than these three.What resonates with you in this list? Avoid:judgingtelling someone to calm downadvising/fixing it/correctingminimizing/belittling/disagreeingjumping to conclusionsinterruptingconsoling/sympathizingeducatinginterrogatingstorytellingThings to practice:be calmgive undivided attentionopen body languagegive time and space if neededbe open mindedlisten for the feelings and the “why"notice fight or flight reactionspatienceparaphrase/empathize to clarify and/or validate understandingIn a recent class I was teaching on emotional intelligence one of the participants shared that between our two sessions, she practiced empathy with her son. Rather than her usual approach, she decided to try to label his emotion and understand his perspective. His response? “Mom, I feel like you’re finally listening to me.” Her emotion? Joy and delight.Want to be that leader? The one who connects and inspires? Check out The Confident Leader.
Jan 18 2022
13 mins
Choosing Discomfort: What I learned in 52 weeks.
When was the last time you consciously chose discomfort? You made a deliberate decision to do/say/behave in a way that you knew would make you feel awkward, afraid, frustrated, or vulnerable? And how did you get the courage to take action? I want you to think about the moment you decided to lean into discomfort. This is an important moment.Because I’ve been doing this podcast now for one year. And it took me nearly a year prior to that to get the courage and the knowledge to even begin recording. I do remember weeping. I do remember foul language. Announcing to my husband, I CAN’T DO THIS.  Until, I did.I’ve chosen discomfort, 52 times so far, because I want to share leadership lessons with you. Did you know that according to research, ½ of first-time managers fail? And while I didn’t fail at management, I wish 30 years ago I would have had a “guide on the side.” More mentoring, more coaching. More people who would help me make better choices in managing myself and others. So now, this is a mission of mine. To help each and every one of you know that your life is full of choices, and that leading others, influencing others, motivating and encouraging others is a powerful mission.  And I believe so strongly and passionately, that it requires intentional effort to be successful.         Because that’s what choosing discomfort is all about. It is the stuff of our dreams, our goals. Because these things we want and strive for are aspirational, they are in the future. And most commonly we have to do/learn/try something new to accomplish them. Which is scary. And sometimes totally sucks. And so, like so many people, we don’t go there. Because well, it will require us to be confident and courageous in the face of the unknown. Which is hard.What do you want in the future and what are you willing to do to get it? Are you willing to be awkward, look silly, be embarrassed, hop on the struggle bus? And are you willing to let others see you there, witness the journey? I talked about this in my very first podcast, How to Be a Conscious Leader: Be Aware of Your Vulnerability in Learning. Are you willing to go through conscious incompetence to achieve your next leadership challenge?When you choose discomfort you:Choose action over stagnationDemonstrate courage over safetyBuild confidence in yourself and your capabilitiesAre a visible role model for growth and developmentIncrease trust in others through vulnerabilityMove towards your goals and dreamsLive a life on purpose, with purposeSo, what did I learn from 52 weeks of discomfort? That is actually wasn’t 52 weeks of pain. Oh, those first few? Dicey. But then the awkwardness began to ebb…the practice of doing it began to feel more comfortable, familiar. The challenge was motivating. The process, easier. Oh, I’m not saying I’m a podcast ninja, but I’m here for you, teaching, sharing, and being a role model for change and growth.Because if I can learn to do a freaking podcast, think what you can do.And you know what? In the next few months, I’m going to start integrating interviews with really awesome leaders into my podcast. So, you can learn from them too. Do I know how I’m doing to do it? Hell no. But I’m going to show up and do it anyway.Because discomfort is the price of my dreams. It’s yours too. So chose a goal for yourself this year, and think what you can do in 52 weeks. Or do you want to accelerate your growth?  Check out my amazing 12 week leadership course!
Jan 11 2022
9 mins