About Susanne Biro

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So far Susanne Biro has created 19 blog entries.

FORBES: The Thrill of Seeking Mastery

As published in Forbes. Photo credit: Lori Ann Hansen Photography As a senior leadership coach, I am a human behaviorist, an avid reader and a life-long student. I know that working on myself is a critical requirement for effectively helping others. I would like to tell you that this work has always come naturally and easily to me and that I have been a willing and eager student of myself, but that would be an outright lie. Only a decade ago, I recall telling my professors, who had strongly encouraged me to visit the on-staff counselor, that although I was certain that kind of professional help was needed by my classmates, I myself did not require it. I am sure they struggled to keep a straight face. The irony now is not lost on me. Here I was completing my master’s degree so I could advance leaders by having them look at themselves and how they interact, react and impact others, while I was unwilling to do the same. Worse, I actually believed I had no personal work to do. Now, that is the definition of arrogance. Today, I still struggle to master myself in terms of my inner thoughts and [...]

FORBES: More Humanity. Not Less.

As published in Forbes. Every true act of leadership has only one purpose: to make life better. As such, leadership is rooted in our humanity. It is curious then that so often we hide ourselves within a professional mask of what we think we ought to do and be, only to lose connection, both with ourselves and the people we are meant to serve. When we approach leadership, human “resources,” recruiting, coaching and professional development via mechanical methods, we generally miss the mark entirely. There are a lot of good leaders today. However, too often they lack the one quality that would make them truly great: their humanity. You see, being human is hard. Perhaps the hardest thing we ever do. After all, we seek leadership positions to fulfill our desire for power, control and authority. Yet to be human is to be weak and vulnerable, something most of us fight against our entire lives (and why we love superheroes, as they allow us, if only briefly, to escape our very limited human form). We don’t really understand the power of our humanity until life forces us to our knees, generally through challenging events like job loss, divorce, aging, illness [...]

By |2017-12-20T09:45:13-07:00December 20th, 2017|Leadership, Leadership Communication, Self-Mastery|

TEDx Talk: Leadership. Lessons Learned in a Barbershop

My TEDx Talk, a tribute to my beautiful mother, Elfie Biro (1945 – 2007).Years ago I wrote this post for my mother to capture all I learned about business by working in her barbershop. She loved it! I am so glad she got to read it before she died. I am certain she would be over-the-moon to know that her lessons continue to live on in me and in the work I do with senior level leaders. I sincerely hope you enjoy this talk and that it reminds you that love is power. May you journey well. With love, Susanne.

By |2017-12-18T12:14:04-07:00December 17th, 2017|Leadership|

FORBES: Leadership. What Not To Do.

As published in Forbes. In my career, I have learned more about exceptional leadership by being on the receiving end of its opposite. Here are three fundamental things I have learned never do to others, simply because I know first-hand how damaging they can be. 1. Don’t lie. This includes blatant lies, half-truths and errors of omission. If you make a mistake, own it, clean it up, and apologize to all impacted. If you don’t know the answer, say so. Be transparent, sharing your thinking and your decision making process. Share what you can, as soon as you can, so people don’t need to make up a story. Be brave, pick up the phone and have the real (and often hard) conversation with the person you need to have it with. Live your values, as everyone is always watching. Call yourself on your own bull. This is perhaps the most important one, as few human beings handle power well. Keep your ego in check. When you need help, ask for it. Be human alongside the rest of us mortals. Remember whom you serve. Keep your promises. Be your word. Address reality. Discuss the undiscussables. Do the right thing. I repeat: [...]

By |2017-12-18T12:14:27-07:00November 18th, 2017|Leadership, Leadership Coaching, Leadership Communication|

FORBES: Leadership Levers. Two Powerful Levers to Initiate Change

As published in Forbes. What one change, if you made it and were able to stick to it long term, would have the greatest potential to positively impact your professional success? Having asked this question of thousands of senior-level leaders, I know the answer is often a personal one: eat better, walk more, stop watching late night TV, turn off the phone on weekends. For you, perhaps it would be to better manage your time or the focus of your mind? Most of us know we could be better listeners, clearer communicators, less distracted and more productive professionals (or parents, spouses or friends), and more effective in working with and through others (aka leadership). However, getting ourselves to change in even the one area we know would contribute most to our happiness and effectiveness is often nearly impossible. We make excuses, complain, point fingers, or wait and expect others to do what we ourselves cannot:  change. My job is to assist organizations to become more successful by helping their top leaders to become ever more effective. This is a tall order, as I frequently work with some of the world’s best and brightest. However, over the last 16 years that [...]

By |2017-12-18T12:14:51-07:00October 17th, 2017|Leadership, Leadership Coaching|

FORBES: Leadership Development. The Path To Becoming Our Highest Self

As published in Forbes. We call ourselves “human beings,” but I think that title is aspirational: one we are meant to earn. Being human should mean we are capable of higher-level thought and can choose rationally how we respond to external events as well as to internal thoughts and emotions. Now, I don’t know about you, but all I need is to be cut off in traffic or have my husband use the wrong tone of voice to witness my own inability to do this well. Perhaps the most surprising element in business today is that we often behave in ways that are extremely ineffective and quite beneath us. Even those among us who are highly educated senior-level professionals fall into these traps. For example: • We send an email or text when we know we should really pick up the phone. • We make a mistake but never apologize to those impacted by our actions. • We ignore the questions we don’t want to answer. • When we think we can get away with it, we are rude, short, or dismissive with others. • We don’t feel empowered to have the real conversation with the person we really need [...]

By |2017-12-18T12:15:23-07:00September 17th, 2017|Leadership, Leadership Coaching|

FORBES: Leading in Relationships. The Subtle Work of Self-Mastery

As published in Forbes. Several years ago I was asked to design a session that could build upon the skills of my peers: world-class speakers, senior facilitators, coaches, and business development professionals. The meeting would be held in New York, at the incredible Mohonk Mountain Retreat, and new colleagues from the Middle East and South America would be there. For weeks I labored over what I could impart that had the greatest potential to assist each person, given they all held slightly different roles. One of the ideas I shared that day is what I call the “horse and dog analogy.” It is a concept I now know to be relevant to all professionals, regardless of field, title or position. Thus, it is one I will share with you. When I was younger, I used to think that if I were an animal I would be a horse. Horses are sensitive creatures. As prey animals, they constantly read their environment. If you approach a horse with fear, the horse will mirror you and become fearful. However, if you enter a corral and think kind thoughts, the horse will come to you. Horses match emotion for emotion. Being highly sensitive, this [...]

By |2017-12-18T12:27:24-07:00August 18th, 2017|Leadership, Self-Mastery|

FORBES: What Really Defines Leadership in Today’s World?

As published in Forbes. Lately, I have been thinking about what makes a leader in today’s world. Are we leaders simply because others report to us, or because we are responsible for an area of the business? Are we leaders because we have a future vision that no one else seems to be able to see just yet? Or is the answer that we are only leaders when others are following? After all, how can we call ourselves leaders if, when we turn around, no one is following us or the initiatives we need them to support? After much contemplation, I propose that a leader today is someone who sparks in us a desire to help. In our networked, matrixed, dotted-lined, ever-changing organizational structures, a leader today must be a follower tomorrow, and vice versa. Therefore, we are not leaders simply because of our titles or responsibilities, nor are we leaders because we have a vision for the future. What makes us leaders is our ability to connect with others in a way that makes them want to help us. I once received an email from a new colleague in Asia. This colleague needed information she hoped I could provide. [...]

FORBES: Why Focusing On Your Teammate’s Success Is The New Performance Review

As published in Forbes. Countless organizations today are striving to create a learning, feedback-rich coaching culture. Having personally taught coaching to (and mentor-coached) hundreds of senior leaders in organizations like American Express, General Electric, salesforce.com, St. Jude Medical, and the Mayo Clinic, I know firsthand the significant investment companies are making. Recently, General Electric announced it was abandoning formal annual reviews and its legacy performance management system for its 300,000-plus employee workforce. What will replace these? More frequent feedback via an app. Given GE’s influence on the rest of the world, this change represents a fundamental shift in how organizations will develop, manage and evaluate people in the decades to come. This is a good thing. Our world is moving faster than ever — so who has the time to wait until next week, let alone the end of the year, to learn if all they were focused on, exhibiting and driving toward, was deemed effective or not by their managers and key stakeholders? We need to have more real-time, feedback-rich interactions, whether these occur in person or via technology. Such interactions create the basis of a coaching culture in which we support each other, with the tacit message underneath being simply: [...]

By |2017-12-18T12:28:25-07:00June 17th, 2017|Leadership, Leadership Coaching|

FORBES: The Four Foundations of Exceptional Coaching

As published in Forbes. Many professionals believe they understand coaching well. However, when I teach coaching to leaders and put them into their first conversation, I inevitably find the coach giving advice to the person they are supposed to be coaching. It would seem our desire to help can be our own coaching Achilles heel. Telling others an answer they can (or ought) to arrive at on their own is rarely helpful. It might feel good to the coach, but it undermines the experience and ultimately, the success of the person the coach is supposed to be helping. Whether leaders, managers, consultants, entrepreneurs, teachers or parents, our goal is to develop the capacity of others so they one day go on to surpass us. Unfortunately, few have received training in the processes that distinguish effective coaching from the mechanical aspects of managing performance. In coaching, we start with the premise that we are dealing with a fully functioning human being – another person (just like us), filled with his or her own hopes, dreams and aspirations, as well as insecurities, limitations and fears. Thus, we intuitively understand that coaching is not a neat cognitive process that begins with listening, moves [...]