Eight Signs You Have Reached the Glass Ceiling

I receive a lot of inquiries from leaders who don’t understand why they haven’t advanced in their careers. Often, they don’t realize the magnitude of being in a stagnant position nor have they interpreted the important signals that have come their way. Once they agree that the following scenarios have occurred it becomes apparent that they may have been identified as “not executive material” and that a strategy is needed to ascend the plateau.

Eight Signs You Have Reached the Glass Ceiling

1. You’ve been told they will look outside the organization to fill the position you want.

This is code for “We don’t have anyone internally of whom we think highly enough to mentor or put in the position.” Unless the opening is for an executive management position or a new skill specific role, this also speaks to the company’s lack of leadership development as an organization. Ask what specific qualities they are looking for in a capable...

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Top Questions You Ask on the Interview to Raise Eyebrows

Job interviews are laced with questions that give the interviewer the opportunity to get to know a) if you will be an asset to the company and b) if you will fit into the company culture. As a prospective hire, use the interview as an opportunity for YOU to ask questions that will not only show how your character aligns with the company mission but, shows the interview team that you care about their long-term strategy and are already thinking of how you will align with it to ease the pain that keeps them up at night.

Talent acquisition specialists have as many as 80 or more resumes for each position and may not know enough about a specific role to understand your transferable skills. They must streamline the interview process of find top talent to forward to hiring managers and look for reasons to eliminate as many borderline candidates as possible. Mix speaking and listening 50/50. Your main goal is to put down all the red flags. Seek to interview with the hiring manager as often...

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How do I move up in my career?

Uncategorized May 15, 2018

People ask me all the time, “How do I move up at my company? What will make me stand out?” 

The simplest answer is this >>> Anticipate and present options. 

Your boss is busy. Busy people like to make decisions, not create options. 

Anticipate what will bring value or address a problem you see on the horizon. Research a few options and most importantly PUT THEM ON PAPER. Present the options document in person to your boss. Bosses are good at making the right choice. They’ll notice that you can pinpoint opportunity, plan and measure results. 

So, the question of the day becomes, “Bossperson, you said you wanted to have more participation at (X) this year and here are three options I researched. (Present options document.) Which do you like best and what feedback can you give me?”

Trust me - you’ll be noticed. 

Check out my video where I walk you through how to get a new job or promotion >>> Three Ways...

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10 Ways You Are Killing Your Executive Presence

If you enter a room with 15 leaders one of them will stand out. She will have an air of confidence that people notice. Others will stop talking and listen to him. That person will have an overall decorum that exudes the message, “I belong here.”  

Executive presence is a blending of mindset, competencies, and delivery that gives the overall impression that this person has dignity and can get the job done. Can executive presence be developed? Yes – if the person has a foundation of self-confidence and a willingness to build their self-awareness and self-regulation.

10 Ways You Are Killing Your Executive Presence 

  1. You don’t demonstrate an even temperament.

 Learn to manage emotions in the unpredictable moment by taking a deep breath and asking yourself, “What is going on with me?” Don’t be quick to give a biased opinion that may not be politically correct. If you feel threatened, don’t act out. Your insecurities...

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Have you ever overreacted at work and immediately regretted it?

Have you overreacted in front of key leaders at work and immediately regretted it? Have you felt anxiety because you assumed something said was personal towards you? Have you thought a round of bad luck would pervade every area of your life or go on indefinitely? 

We’ve all been stuck and not able to self-regulate. Unfortunately, stuck thinking only breeds more suffering when our only strategy is to get back on the treadmill to nowhere with the same mindset and behaviors.

Early in my career I remember over-reacting at an executive management meeting and feeling justified. I had so little self-awareness that the need to be right overshadowed my presence and effectiveness. These occurrences start to build stereotypes that rob you of respect. Don’t be labeled the “emotional leader” or “the victim.”

Become a third-party observer of your own behavior and thoughts - a fly on the wall watching your life. What would you tell a friend who had your...

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The #1 Thing That Holds You Back from Career Advancement

Uncategorized May 03, 2018

What I’ve learned in observing myself and my executive clients for years is that the biggest factor holding us back from taking risks and having executive presence as a leader boils down to one thing - lack of self-acceptance. 

We can’t show up and lead boldly if our standard is perfection. We can’t forgive others until we forgive ourselves. We can’t connect and richly serve humanity if we aren’t comfortable with our own vulnerability.

It takes humility to ask ourselves this - “Am I willing to continue to live and lead at the level I am now or not?” If the answer is an emphatic “No!” then people are willing to search inside themselves for what serious changes they’re committed to make, seek guidance along the way and establish practices to sustain growth. If not, they get right back on the treadmill to nowhere, exhausted and disappointed.

Self-acceptance means we prioritize nurturing ourselves. We take time to make...

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When You Aren't Sure What To Do

New SMART Leaders ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS. You know that risk you’re avoiding because it makes you uncomfortable and you’re really unsure about what will happen if you take it? Maybe you should pay attention to that. 

Get curious about it. Is now the right time? What would change if you waited another month? Is it really an either or choice? What other options might there be? Who might be good counsel on this? How can you be gentle with yourself as you vet the decision? 

Trust your gut and ask questions. Your pinhole perspective will start to open. You’re head is too analytical and you heart is too emotional. Trust instinct and challenge assumptions. It’s how we’ve stayed alive as a species for centuries. It will serve you in doubt. 

Check out my latest column for The Ladders - $100,000+ job site here.

Your coach,

Mary Lee

P.S. Feel free to send this link to someone who could benefit from it. We are all walking down the same road in...

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Who is The Company?

Late Monday afternoon on April 23rd my husband flew American Airlines 8+ hours through the night from Philadelphia to Munich. An hour and a half before the flight landed while the cabin was dark and most passengers were sleeping the airline blared an announcement asking people to donate to a charity - something that could have occurred earlier.

My husband questioned the flight attendant who told him to go to AA.com & file a complaint with the company. 

(Not that it should matter but my husband flew business class and is Concierge Key, all which the flight attendant knew.)

Subsequently, the pilot came out & told him the same thing.

Let’s replay this:

Pilot: #1) You and every employee are the face of the company - you own its behavior. Apologize and fact find. “I understand you had a bad experience and I apologize. We value your business. Please tell me what happened.”

#2) Affirm the toll. “I understand that you probably have to work as...

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Thinking of You

Recently I was not feeling well and missed an event where I had hoped to extend my deepest appreciation to several hundred volunteers at St. Margaret Hospital. I was so disappointed that I couldn’t be there to thank these outstanding stewards of our patients who struggle with the biggest challenges of their lives. The next day I received this note from the two directors of the event - simply run off on their printer that said:

 Thinking of You -

Hope you’re feeling much better

and hope you’re remembering, too

The many warm thoughts and good wishes

that always are right there with you.

If you think personal notes (talking hard copy here and not email) are a thing of the past you are wrong. This totally captured my attention, warmed my heart, made me smile and immediately inspired me to reach out and thank them.

I keep a drawer full of informal note cards for this very thing - from personalized Crane to Kate Spade to convenience store birthday cards. And I...

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How to Give Feedback that Matters

Feedback is crucial to performance improvement because it enables us to look at situations and ourselves from a third-party perspective. It unlocks self-reflection and growth, and opens the door to opportunity. “You are doing a great job” or “You have to do better,” does not give the employee the needed tools to improve or the intrinsic fulfillment to make him want to stay with the company and grow.

Effective feedback has three mindful components. It is 1) Strategic, 2) Developmental and 3) Aligned with the values of the organization. These require us to be aware of our restrictive biases.

Strategic Feedback: The employee can most benefit from feedback that answers this question: “What should this employee do more or less of to be maximally effective?” If you aren’t sure of the answer, ask the employee. Once you have the answer, you can work with her to clear distractions from her workload and position her to do the most meaningful and...

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