Monday, October 20, 2008

A Different Way to Think About Bragging

My client, Gloria, was recently named head of the information technology group in her organization, reporting to the CEO. In the past, she has been successful in getting things done by ‘flying under the radar’ and influencing behind the scenes. We could also describe this as being somewhat invisible. She tells me she doesn’t like to ‘brag’.

Gloria also has a very easy style of getting people on board with her ideas. However, as an officer of the company, she is being called to be more visible. Her discomfort, like most women in leadership, is that she doesn’t want to brag and doesn’t want to be perceived as pushy. I completely understand this.

Gloria is a brilliant strategist and can see trends that need to be attended to now in order to prepare the company for what’s coming down the pike. Yet, because of her style, many people in the organization do not see this side of her. Let’s look at the costs of being invisible, or ‘not bragging’.

** The Costs of ‘Not Bragging’ **

Her resistance to being more visible has leadership implications. By not sharing what she’s doing, her peers see only certain parts of her and what she does. To be an active part of the senior leadership team, she will need share more of her thinking and broaden how she is perceived.

Her boss wants the board of directors to know what she’s doing because her contributions to the senior team are helping the company move forward in a highly competitive marketplace. Gloria gets frustrated at times when other employees think her group is predominantly a help desk function. Yet, this is part of her own style that has caused this.

** An Opportunity for Higher Employee Engagement **

Her employees are well thought of in the organization. Yet, there’s an opportunity for this group to be seen for the depth and breadth of everything they do. Everyone has a basic need to be valued and appreciated and there’s an opportunity here to increase employee engagement and job satisfaction.

When a leader is effective in conveying the value of his or her group to the rest of the organization, this provides inspiration not only to the immediate group, but to the larger whole. Employees are able to see the positive direction the company is headed and how the parts contribute to the whole. Additionally, other employees also know what to call on this group for when they need support.

** Inspiration in Action **

So, my reframe on bragging is that it’s vital to find an authentic way to communicate to your boss, peers and the rest of the organization related to what you’re doing, your strategic thinking process, the results you’re achieving and how it connects to the whole. This actually provides hope and inspiration. And, inspiration is one of the key elements of a great leader.

** Where Can You Apply? **

Where are you holding back because you’re worried it will sound like bragging? Think of a specific situation that would be beneficial for others to know and consider how you can authentically share the key elements in a way that inspires others?

Certified Leadership Coach Lynn Rousseau helps leaders trust their inner wisdom and convert it to action in order to take their next big career step. For more information and to get a copy of Lynn's free audio "4 Keys to Trusting Your Intuition: Without a Doubt!" visit today.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Staking Your Claim – Stepping Fully into Leadership

I’m coaching a client (I’ll call him Steve to protect anonymity) who heads up the Planning & Development function for a large energy related company. One of Steve’s biggest frustrations is working with the head marketing and finance guys to determine who ‘owns’ each incoming project deal…..Who’s driving the bus and pushing it through to completion? Who’s accountable?

The president is consistently making sure Steve’s involved and this makes the president feel better, but Steve’s concerned that he may be held accountable for others when they’re driving the project. He’s also concerned about getting his peers’ attention to seriously consider his ideas in the deal structure.

Naturally, there will be a very different focus depending on who’s ‘driving’. The financial guy takes a more conservative approach, the marketing guy tends to favor the client, and Steve works hard to balance all the concerns to get the best deal for the company.

There’s many variables at play here…..Authority, Accountability, Influence. Sound familiar?

* Influencing Others When You Have Less Positional Authority *

Let’s look at the * Influence component *. The underlying challenge for Steve is to step fully into his leadership role and constructively confront his peers when it makes sense for Steve to drive a project or play a bigger role. He’s younger than his two peers and has a title one level lower than them. Yet, they all report to the president.

* The Opportunity Waiting to Hatch *

What’s the opportunity for Steve? I see he’s got a clear opportunity to stake his claim and step up. When you get to senior levels of management, nobody is going to give you things anymore; you have to go for them. You have to be clear who you are, what you bring to the party, where you can add the most value, then determine the relationship and influence approach that will get you there.

* Pushing Out Your Elbows *
For Steve, he calls it “pushing out his elbows”. It’s a great visual for expanding out and stepping into that bigger space of full leadership and potential within you. And it requires taking a risk and asserting yourself. It’s possible you’ll get some bumps and bruises, but it’s really the only way to find the edges or the boundaries in your organization’s culture and the individuals you work with most closely.

* Where Can You Apply? *

What’s a specific situation that’s calling you to step up more fully and push out your elbows? What’s the best approach to move this forward? What’s one specific action you can take this month to move that situation forward?

Certified Leadership Coach Lynn Rousseau helps leaders trust their inner wisdom and convert it to action in order to take their next big career step. For more information and to get a copy of Lynn's free audio "4 Keys to Trusting Your Intuition: Without a Doubt!" visit today.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mastering Emotions: A Key to Fulfillment

** A Deeper Way of Understanding Emotions**
Today I’m focusing on the negative emotions that can grip us and how we can shift out of that place more quickly. The most common negative emotions are typically in the areas of: anger, guilt, fear, and depression. Emotion is a thought linked to a sensation in the body. When we bring our attention to the sensation, we have the opportunity to break the link between the thought and the sensation. Then, we can disempower the negative emotion.

A thought coupled with an emotion produces a response that sets in motion a new or old belief. Beliefs then become habits. The next similar event that comes along evokes an automatic response from our habits.

The key is to become aware of this sequencing and with conscious awareness and interrupt it to create a new and different response that is feeling good – joy, happiness, love, etc. When we are able to be in this kind of positive emotional state with an open heart, we have greater access to a different part of our innate intelligence and we have more possibilities and positive choices.

** How To Work With This? **
It’s a 6-step process. But, these steps can happen very quickly the more you work with it. I can sometimes isolate it in about 10 minutes. I’ve been working with this intently for the past three months and the results are astonishing for me. Here are the steps I follow.

1. Notice When You’re Not Feeling Good. At the beginning of my day, I set my intention to pay attention to the moments when I feel out of sorts. I notice in the moment when I do not feel good. I know that the faster I shift this, the more I stay in a flow of being in alignment with my true self and the more effective I am in my work.

2. Stop & Tune In. I stop what I’m doing to tune into to my body to identify where I am feeling the sensation. Oftentimes, it is either in my heart or chest area, my solar plexus (right above the navel) or my stomach. Sometimes it may be in my throat, particularly if there was a situation where I needed to be more forthright.

3. Go Into the Sensation. Allow myself to feel into the sensation to notice it. Sometimes just this act can cause it to diminish. There’s a saying: “Whatever we resist will persist”. I notice what the sensation feels like – is there tightness, does it feel like a lead weight, does it feel jumbled or swirling? I’m just being present to the sensation and noticing its characteristics – not trying to figure anything out at this point – just observing.

4. Identify the Trigger Event. I ask myself: “What has happened in my day that may be linked to this?”

5. Identify the Thoughts. I ask: “What thoughts do I have about this situation?” “Where was I not true to myself and I needed to be?” Recognizing that events happen. We human beings are the ones who add meaning. So, it’s important for us to be more aware of the meaning we are adding and how that is affecting us. Not everyone would react the same way to the same event.

6. Choose the Best Action: Then I choose the best action for me to take. It may be following up with someone to be more complete in my communication or clarifying a need I have. It may be honoring myself in the form of extreme self care and identifying what would be the best thing for this. The importance about this step is making a choice from a conscious place, rather than a patterned, habitual response.

** Where Can You Apply This? **
Try this at least three times during the next week. For more challenging situations, you may want to ask a friend to talk it through with you using this process. The more you use this, the faster you can do it in a given situation and create the possibility to turn things around for the better (for both you and others involved).

Certified Leadership Coach Lynn Rousseau helps leaders trust their inner wisdom and convert it to action in order to take their next big career step. For more information and to get a copy of Lynn's free audio "4 Keys to Trusting Your Intuition: Without a Doubt!" visit today.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Servant Leadership: Creating Space for Others to Learn

** What is Servant Leadership ?**
Servant Leadership emphasizes collaboration, empathy, and the ethical use of power. At heart, the individual is a servant first, making the conscious decision to lead in order to better serve others, not to increase their own power. The objective is to enhance the growth of individuals in the organization and increase teamwork and personal involvement.

Robert Greenleaf is recognized as the father of servant leadership. Greenleaf described servant leadership in this manner:

"It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead…The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: do those served grow as persons, do they grow while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?"
** How is this Relevant? **
You can see from this that it’s a ‘frame of mind’ that influences the actions you might take. I love the example of a conversation I recently had with a client. We were looking at all the things he’s doing to successfully make the shift into a larger role that he has taken on in the company. Part of it includes his establishing and defining a new function in the company and hiring more people. He said to me, “Lynn, I consciously build in more time for my employees to complete tasks because many of them are new. I want to give them space to learn and make mistakes. So, sometimes projects take longer, but I know it’ll all work out on the back end and start to gain more momentum in time.”

I was so impressed that he had consciously made this decision and it certainly is the best thing to do in order to allow people to grow and it will also allow my client to function at a higher level as his people develop in their own abilities.

He realizes the importance of creating a learning environment so that his employees can develop into their role and take on more responsibility. This also contributes to higher employee engagement.

** Where Can You Apply This? **
Whether you have direct responsibility for supervising other people or not, you definitely influence others in your organization. We can all apply the concepts of servant leadership. Where can you create more space for others to work a process? Where do you want to adopt this concept of serving others? It doesn’t have to be a big thing (to use a highly technical word). Even the most subtle gestures or conversations can have profound impacts on others.

Certified Leadership Coach Lynn Rousseau helps leaders trust their inner wisdom and convert it to action in order to take their next big career step. For more information and to get a copy of Lynn's free audio "4 Keys to Trusting Your Intuition: Without a Doubt!" visit today.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Head and Heart: How to Have the Impact You Intend

As I've shared, I've been through big changes lately. I'm now single again and I have changed my name. The last couple of months have been a very exciting time for me and I'm finally adjusting to 'wearing' a new name and living in alignment with my true self.

Today I want to share with you a simple concept I've been using with my clients lately to bridge the head and heart in important conversations to have the impact you intend.

* Head and Heart Concept *

The concept works like this. If you have a situation with an individual in your work or personal life that you want to clear up, consider what part you want
more clarity (head or cognitive).

Then, consider how you want the person to feel as a result of the conversation with you (heart or emotions).

* Example *

I was recently coaching a client who was just promoted to VP of Human Resources. So, she cares about her new role and that she is perceived positively.

She finds out from her boss that a business unit President is feeling like this VP is being non-responsive to an issue that he cares a lot about. She hasn't even been made aware of the issue until the moment she is told about his perspective of her.

* Head Part *

This is the WHAT part of the communication. We looked at how she could approach him to get clarification about what he wants and needs. She could let him know she was made aware of his concern and that she was not previously informed about this until now.

She can communicate that she wants to make sure she fully understands what he wants and needs so that she can be responsive and take care of it for him.

* Heart Part *

This is the EMOTIONAL IMPACT you want the other person to experience in the communication.

Then I asked her, "How do you want him to feel towards you as a result of this conversation?" She had to think about that. I was looking for the emotional component of her intention and what she wanted to create during the conversation.

She realized that she wanted him to leave with a clear feeling that he is 'cared for' or 'taken care of'. I asked her, "What does it feel like when you know someone 'has your back'?" For the receiver (of being cared for), it increases trust and reduces worry and stress.

My coaching request to her was to anchor that feeling in her body and hold the intention of this president feeling very well taken care of. She doesn't have to say anything explicit, although she could. But, her carrying this intention and this energy into the room with her and it shifts the conversation.

Her words will come from this place. My experience is that it's much easier to find the words in the moment that are just right for the person and the situation if I get my 'state of being' in alignment with a positive intent.

* Experiment *

Allow yourself to recall a time or situation when someone took care of you or had your back. Give yourself a moment to replay this memory and take a few deep breaths to let you body feel it fully. I am willing to bet you notice your body start to relax and your breathing may get a little easier too.

When you positively change your 'state of being',you will positively impact others as well.

Certified Leadership Coach Lynn Rousseau helps leaders trust their inner wisdom and convert it to action in order to take their next big career step. For more information and to get a copy of Lynn's free audio "4 Keys to Trusting Your Intuition: Without a Doubt!" visit today.