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 |2017-12-18T12:14:51-08:00October 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 |2017-12-18T12:15:23-08:00September 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 |2017-12-18T12:27:24-08:00August 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 |2017-12-18T12:28:25-08:00June 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 [...]

FORBES: Is Your Leadership Brave Enough to Have the Conversation You Don’t Want to Have?

As published in Forbes. Conversations are not important to leadership. They are leadership. Whether one-to-one or one-to-many, conversation is the leader’s primary tool. With so much taking place within any interaction, it is often difficult even for seasoned leaders to process all that occurs. Frequently, we realize we have not addressed the real issue long after a conversation took place. On our commute home, we find ourselves playing out a discussion. Or we notice ourselves having the real conversation we failed to have earlier in the day with our spouse over dinner, only this time sharing key points we didn’t share with the person who could actually do something about them. Much has been written on the topic, which tells us how necessary but rare the skill is. Books like Fierce Conversations, Difficult Conversations, Crucial Conversations and more recently, Conversational Intelligence and The Power of Noticing provide us with tools to more fully recognize all that occurs. By bringing greater awareness to the complexity of human interactions, the goal is to speed up the time it takes for us to (1) recognize the real conversation begging to be had and (2) effectively address it in real time. While most conversations involve the [...]

By |2017-12-18T12:29:26-08:00April 17th, 2017|Leadership, Leadership Communication|

Presence: Where Do You Think You’re Going?

In The Road Less Traveled, author M. Scott Peck makes the claim that life is difficult. On the surface, I agree. Being a spiritual entity in a heavy, physical body on this dark, dense, material plane is definitely no picnic. Our bodies never look how we want them to look, they rarely function as we hope, they break down often, and, eventually, they fail each and every one of us. This is one thing we know for certain. So it is that each of us is trapped in a limiting form and bound by time. Of course, life is difficult! What an inherently frustrating experience this is. I know I am so much more than I can show you in this physical form and in the short amount of time I have. I suspect you feel the same. This is why many of us cannot accept the present moment. It is also why so many of us focus our time and energy solely on getting to what we believe will be a better place. We are working to make our image of ourselves a reality. “This is not yet me,” we all unconsciously say. We are simultaneously inspired and envious [...]

By |2017-12-18T12:18:27-08:00March 18th, 2017|Leadership, Leadership Communication, Self-Mastery|

The Secret of Exceptional Coaching

I have spent the better part of the last 15 years teaching mid- to senior-level leaders how to more effectively coach for performance. My clients have included thousands of successful men and women in some of the world’s best organizations. These talented professionals have advanced degrees, upwards of 40 years’ of leadership and management experience, and sometimes even advanced coaching certifications. Many consider themselves to be highly skilled at coaching. Some are, most are not. It is not that ALL of these exceptional men and women do not understand what great coaching entails. Having asked thousands of leaders in many parts of the world to tell me about their own personal best coach—someone who had a profound and significant impact on them becoming the person and professional they are today—I know they understand it well. Some tell me about their mother or father, a grade school math teacher or football coach, a first boss, or, better still, their current supervisor (although I hear this less frequently than I should). When I ask them to tell me about the character of their own best coach, the relationship they shared, and if there is something that this coach did or said that [...]

By |2017-12-18T12:18:56-08:00February 17th, 2017|Leadership, Leadership Coaching|

“This is How We Do Things Here, Now”: How to effectively change your corporate culture

My mother and father were European, Austrian and Hungarian to be specific. One of the things this meant for me growing up was that if someone came to our house, everyone had to come out from wherever they were, say hello, and immediately we had to offer that person a drink (preferably alcoholic). If the person stayed for more than 30 minutes, it was necessary to offer them food and then, even if they declined (and sometimes especially if they declined), feed them. Providing the basic necessities of life (drink and food) was understood as a sign of abundance and wealth. We had it to give away and my parents took great delight in sharing what we had. If a guest refused our offerings, we (especially my mother), took offense. “What’s wrong with my cooking?” she would demand. “Mom, maybe they just aren’t hungry,” I would try to reason in front of our increasingly uncomfortable guest. She couldn’t conceive of it. The funny thing is that now when I enter someone’s home and they fail to offer me a drink, I find it strange, even a little rude. That’s the thing with culture, it colors how we interpret everything and, [...]

By |2017-12-18T12:19:23-08:00January 18th, 2017|Leadership, Leadership Communication, Leading Culture|