Nine Lessons from the Corner Office

Ten years ago I began my role as President of a $25 million Hospital Foundation within an 85,000 employee organization. I went to a very nice employee appreciation lunch and was able to select a special gift of recognition from an array of items. 

Mostly, I am grateful for the opportunity I have to lead and serve alongside consummate professionals I respect and under board members who trust me and have challenged me to be the best leader I can be. 

I’ve earned a number of awards from various community and professional organizations for my leadership throughout my tenure here. But nothing has meant more to me than knowing that when I get up and come to work every day, I get the privilege to make the world a little better. That might mean providing a walker for an elderly gentleman or a hearing aid for a new mother. It might be paying rent for a patient with cancer, so she doesn’t get evicted due to lost wages while in treatment. It could be as big as a $4.5...

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A Fun Remote-Work COVID-19 Plan for You Today - Fill in the Blanks

You're at home working remotely and worried about getting Coronavirus, your income may decline, your investment portfolio is tanking and that retirement may be a mirage. Let's focus on what needs to go right not what is going wrong.

1. We need to get comfortable with uncertainty.

Difficult, yes. But think back to the last time you were uncertain - got laid off, moved to a new town, started school or a new job. How did you get through it? You'll get through this the same way.

We want to shrink back to the ways things were. We were comfortable there. Much of the predictability of our lives is gone. We are all grieving that loss. 

The sooner we accept that change is inevitable, uncomfortable and out of our control, the more resiliency we have to move forward.

2. Focus on the professional or personal development you've complained you've never have time for.

You're bored. You're as productive as you can be considering much of your work flow is controlled by a stagnant economy. So...

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Your Emotional Scars

We all have emotional scars. And there are two things regarding them that we have to keep in mind. 1) We must work on healing them or we will be unhappy. That means not holding grudges or anger or hatred inside us. We forgive others for ourselves - not to deny what happened but to move on and not drag a ball and chain around our heart. Seeking revenge is like drinking poison and thinking the other person will die. We heal by continually releasing expectations, accepting ourselves with all our imperfections and living in the moment - not the past or future. It takes daily routines and practice to achieve this, but the benefits are life changing. 

2) Until we fully heal, we must not lose our professional and personal presence when triggers bring us back to the emotion of despair. At work this is executive presence. We do this by being a witness - a third party observer - of our emotions without acting on them. Here we make a conscious choice to OBSERVE as opposed to ACT OUT. Take...

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Don't Do This in Your Leadership During COVID19

These times are a test of resilience. Adjusting to working remotely is challenging for leaders and teams. Adjusting to working on site during a pandemic is the same. It’s a lesson for all of us on how to adapt to and manage what is inevitable - change. Resistance comes when people are afraid. At its most severe it’s like trying to stand still in an earthquake. “Why is this happening to me?” People feel victimized and want to escape.  

Leaders need to be sensitive to their own fears and those of their constituents. Everyone needs to accept that uncertainty is part of life. The sooner we accept that the more resilient we become.

As leaders we need to be change neutral - not change agents. Don't coddle, over-sympathize, or try to protect your team or you send the message that change is painful and unmanageable. Instead of asking, “How can I make this change easier for you?” as if you are personally choosing to push something down on them...

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COVID-19 and Your Staff Meetings

I work in a hospital setting where everyone is on site and the COVID-19 crisis has people worried. This week at my staff meeting in addition to insuring good social distance I opened it with, “This is a difficult time. Let's just stop for a minute and share how we’re feeling about what’s going on with us right now.” That moment of reflection allowed everyone to step back, take a breath and exhale all of the emotional churn that had built up.  

In this safe space I witnessed a human sigh of authenticity. There were tears. There was fear. There was frustration. And after all of the emotions were out, shared, and discussed there was compassion. People offered to help each other, solutions to personal concerns and shared meaning. We saw each other instead of just ourselves. Compassion was king.

What was even more amazing is that then we were able to get some innovative work done with total focus on a crisis management plan and how we’d work...

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The Top Skill for Executive Advancement

In my executive coaching practice I help people build the most important skill to uplevel their career and happiness. Most people think that work ethic and resilience are the top indicators of success. Grit is indeed a valued skill. But at a certain level everyone has it. The most sought-after skill for executive advancement is self-awareness. It is most desired because it carries the ability to grow while managing emotions that get in the way of risk taking, feedback and success. There are two types of self-awareness: 1) being aware of your own thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and 2) being aware of how you are viewed by others. 

Leaders are generally are aware of their thoughts but often underutilize their power to disengage from false assumptions that they’ve adopted as facts and end up being emotionally paralyzed from the negative feelings and low self-esteem that result. Competent and even confident leaders then wonder why they aren’t advancing, aren’t...

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How to Deal with Anger from Your Divorce

I spent a lot of years angry. Very angry. I was in a neglectful and abusive marriage as a stay-at-home mother of four children under seven-years-old. On the outside it looked like we were living the country club life while in reality my life was unpalatable. Every day I felt as if a noose around my neck was choking my ability to breathe. Finally, I filed for divorce as a leap of faith and was completely unprepared for the avalanche to come. 

Within six months of filing for divorce my husband placed his businesses into bankruptcy on loans I had cosigned. He canceled his children’s and my health insurance but not his own. Our home which was nearly paid off and in the most affluent suburb of town went up for Sheriff’s Sale whereby 100% of the proceeds went to offset his business debt. The bank repossessed my minivan, not his car. And I had to chase him through the courts for a child support and alimony award at its highest of $269 a week – which he appealed. The...

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Every Leader Should Be Required to Read this Book

Every leader should be required to read this book I read on a recent trip to Greece. Spiritual and political power are not mutually exclusive. Imagine if business schools taught that the more compassionate you are the more effective leader you are. 

Or the power of The Five Spiritual Powers: 1) FAITH (better translated as confidence and trust); 2) DILIGENCE to practice not watering the seeds of anger, fear, hate, despair but to replace and water seeds of joy, peace and happiness; 3) MINDFULNESS to recognize things as they are without projecting bias so emotion can pass; 4) CONCENTRATION on the reality that nothing is permanent so value this moment, unhappiness is born from discrimination between self and others, and that everyone is interconnected; 5) INSIGHT where we realize that all of our suffering can be avoided by living the previous four powers. 

As you cultivate these FIVE POWERS you naturally acquire the power of leadership because people flock to you for advice...

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When You Can't Let Go of the Past

In my executive coaching practice I see wonderfully talented clients suffer from life messages dished out by inept bosses, well meaning family members, and misguided colleagues. We don’t thrive when we are controlled from the outside in. We thrive in our natural mindset - from observing the outside world and accepting ourselves internally no matter what.  

If someone chooses to be biased or unkind, their behavior says more about them than you. But sometimes we internalize the outward world and make it personal to us. That leaves us a victim. 

The only way to deal with this is to build self-awareness so that you can see when you start to interpret other people’s behavior as the root of your feelings. ‘I’m unhappy because my boss never appreciates me or my family always held me back or my coworker triangulates the office against me.’ 

Separate assumptions from facts. When you sense assumptions made in desperation from a mindful...

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When You Want to Quit

Patience. Yesterday I helped a client understand that her efforts will be far better placed in seeking a new role as opposed to struggling in a culture out of alignment with her values. There was freedom in that decision for her.  

Now instead of questioning her worth she is positioning her value proposition on a platform that showcases her specific and unique talent so that she may be effective in a rewarding setting. In doing so she had to let go of thinking she failed if she moved on. She had to walk away from feeling ineffective and unwanted. Now she sees light where there had only been despair. That’s power.  

Hope is not a strategy. It is a springboard to new beginnings that start with necessary endings.  

Wishing you the patience to allow yourself to see an opportunity in letting something go to make room for alignment with your values. In that space you can plan and execute at your best instead if doubting and worrying at your worst. ...

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