It Is Not Your Job to Engage Them

Corporations spend a lot of energy on employee engagement as if there is some magic formula of training, open door policies, and standardized performance evaluations such that if the leader does all of them in perfect harmony, they’ll have a symphony of engagement.  

It’s not the leader’s job to engage workers. It’s the workers’ job to come to work ready to do their best. The problem is employees may not know how to be their best or what ‘best’ looks like. It’s the leader’s job to issue the call to excellence and help employees be great.   

Free lunch, a pool table in the break room and flex hours are not the answer to poor engagement. Setting clear goals is a start but can backfire and lead to entitlement without accountability. 

Often bureaucracy, cynicism, personal agendas and politics start to poison company cultures, especially when employees start attaching interpretive stories to factual...

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Gaslighting and Your Executive Presence

You know the feeling. You’re in what you think is an honest discussion with someone and suddenly they blindside you with a comment that totally undermines your perspective. At first you are stunned like a deer in the headlights. You think, ‘How could she say that? It isn’t at all true.’ Then you get angry at the betrayal and at this point you have lost your executive presence. You shut down or start defending yourself, never getting anywhere on the real issue.

You know you are being gaslighted when you hear comments such as:

  • I didn’t do that.
  • You’re overreacting.
  • You’re imagining that.
  • You’re too sensitive.
  • I never said that.
  • Why are you __________? (Something that isn’t true.)
  • Stop being a victim.
  • You’ve got the problem not me.
  • You need to let it go.

Gaslighting happens at work and in life. It’s a Machiavellian tactic whereby someone minimizes you by denying that your perception of a situation is true. It’s...

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Your Job is Not to Engage Them

Corporations spend a lot of energy on employee engagement as if there is some magic formula of training, open door policies, and standardized performance evaluations that if the leader does all of them in perfect harmony they’ll have a symphony of engagement.  

It’s not the leader’s job to engage workers. It’s the workers’ job to come to work ready to do their best. The problem is employees may not know how to be their best or what ‘best’ looks like. It’s the leader’s job to issue the call to greatness and help employees be great.  

To do this a leader has to help employees bypass their ego and the emotional churn of needing to be right and start focusing on facts not assumptions.  

Free lunch, a pool table in the break room and flex hours are not the answer to poor engagement. Setting clear goals is a start but can backfire and lead to entitlement without accountability. “What would great look...

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10 Assumptions That Kill Careers and 10 Truths that Advance Them

I have many clients working in toxic cultures that minimize the contributions of good leaders as well as divide otherwise collaborative people against each other. Often victims of these cultures internalize that they are being targeted and become paranoid. They play it safe and downplay their ingenuity to remain unseen. They fear being terminated which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because they end up doing or saying something out of frustration that gets them in trouble.  

Empowerment happens when you can tell the distinct difference between what is an assumption and what is true. Assumptions are limiting. Truth is actionable. 

10 Assumptions That Kill Careers and 10 Truths that Advance Them 

  1. I don’t have enough experience. 

Experience can be learned. Motivation, dedication, resourcefulness and tenacity are transferable. If you know more about an industry or skill it will not alter any of these intrinsic characteristics. Think of the lowest...

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Stop Those Thoughts

You are so much more than your than your thoughts. Who would you be without the head trash that came from life messages you adopted as truths? These thoughts are only assumptions triggered by a needy ego. Needy egos have terrible executive presence. 

  1. Tell your ego you’ve got this, and that it can take a rest from trying to protect you out of fear of rejection. You’re open and ready.   
  1. Notice that there are other people who might be feeling the same thing right now. 
  1. Reach out and give them assurance that you think they are awesome.  
  1. Remind yourself that you’re awesome too.  
  1. Take a long mindful walk with deep breaths and awareness of your surroundings. 
  1. Make time to eat something healthy. You matter.  
  1. Sleep. Prepare for sleep without using electronic devices for three hours before bed. Read something soothing and peaceful before you fall asleep or listen to a guided meditation for...
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A Story About My Daughter

Yesterday I got a call from my second oldest daughter who had just had an intimidating experience. As I was helping her stay in the moment and not relive the fear or project a repeat occurrence I remembered the wisdom in the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

The book offers a code of conduct based on ancient Toltec wisdom that advocates freedom from self-limiting beliefs that may cause suffering and limitation in a person's life.

The Four Agreements are:

Always do your best.
Be impeccable with your word.
Don’t take anything personally.
Don’t make assumptions.

The first two are character based. Good people have less trouble with them. The last two are self-esteem based. Everyone has trouble with them.

Fear can be debilitating. It’s worse when we make assumptions about it. At work it usually shows up around what people say, do, what you assume is behind their behavior and what you assume they mean. You think it’s about you personally but usually...

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Three Things to Say When You Feel Threatened by a Bad Boss or Colleague

You have probably heard people talk about boundaries at work. A boundary is an invisible line between what you will and will not allow. Insecure bosses and colleagues often don’t have them. They don’t know what to do with their unrest, so it turns into anger and despair that gets vented in an inappropriate way at people who don’t deserve it. It’s only a short fix for them so they must keep venting to feel better - dreadful for you. 

All conflict stems from a need to be right so the first thing you want to do with a difficult colleague is to let them be right. This is difficult to achieve when your ego is in the way. Therefore, when you are working on your executive presence you must start first with learning to self-regulate – manage your emotions in the crucial fight-or-flight moment. 

In that crucial moment where you have been offended or feel threatened, take a deep breath and assure yourself you are safe. Be an observer of your own...

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Age Bias is Alive and Well

Ageism in the workforce is palpable. I have many clients experiencing it right now - getting phased out because they’re viewed as not tech savvy or sharp enough. Not only is that biased and discriminative, it’s just not true. But some work environments minimize this subset of the workforce so much that the workers begin to dummy down their own performance to play it safe and in that self-sabotage state live up to the stereotype they’ve been dubbed. Viscous. 

People in their 50s and 60s taught themselves how to use computers, survived wars with resilience and without the post-war armed services suicide rates we are seeing today, are loyal, can handle conflict, have no problem cold calling, can negotiate, can start and carry a conversation longer then a minute, can close a deal, and can build alignment. They also have institutional memory and want to serve and develop others. Is there no value for these skills? Of course there is. But just as our culture...

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12 Leadership Influence Books That Changed My Career

I read two books a week. I love reading because I can choose books on precisely what interests me. I was never a fan of school because there were so many subjects I was not interested in - like Algebra III. Anyway, when I was a young, struggling single mother of four children I became a veracious reader. I could not afford books at the time so I would sit on the floor of book stores and read about how I could get a job that would provide for my family. The library did not have cutting edge management and leadership books so I would go to the book store while my children were in school. 

When I became a manager I realized everyone wasn’t like me so I went back to the bookstore on the weekends to learn how to be a better leader. Fast forward to today where I am a two decade CEO and my husband and I still go the bookstore each Saturday and Sunday on my quest for knowledge. I always come home with at least one book. A Nook doesn’t work for me. I like to turn down the...

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How Do We Not Get Disappointed

Goals are essential to success. No doubt. Knowing that, how do we not affix our fulfillment to an outcome? 

There’s a difference between working TOWARD something and working FOR something. Setting a goal, working hard, listening, learning and adjusting along the way is a natural course for survival. It’s how we’ve evolved and not become extinct as a species. But when we personalize an outcome - positive or negative - instead of seeing it as a natural course of events we make the outcome about us instead of the greater good of the whole. Our ego gets in the way and its hunger for affirmation supersedes reality. Then we begin to think we can control the natural flow of events when ego never contributes to flow. It acts like a logger-jam.  

If you don’t get the promotion, job, relationship, home, vacation, car, pen, handbag, health, time, freedom you want what do you have that matters? Choices. Nothing is permanent including your mindset. When...

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