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
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...
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.
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Jason’s boss is the new CEO of a company that has not met budget for two years. The organization is merging with two other organizations, making the culture guarded and tentative. Jason is afraid his position isn’t secure because the CEO continually questions his opinions and doesn’t affirm that he brings any value to the team. Additionally, the executive management team is posturing at their weekly meetings whereby one dominant personality is allowed to single him out with criticism outside of her authority. Jason is feeling judged by his boss and threatened by his peers.
How we conduct ourselves in a tense situation is paramount to how we are viewed as a leader. Maintaining executive presence is extremely challenging when you feel as if you are negatively critiqued. Self-management is key. Being honest with yourself and others is the first tenet to presence. We must be vulnerable enough to accept our discomfort internally before we externalize it with...
I am struggling with what we’ve been seeing in the world - the blatant lack of respect for fellow human beings. I’ve read everything I can on it, talked with close friends, ordered books that I think will help make sense of it all. It wasn’t until I stopped “seeking” answers and turned inward that I found what I was looking for.
I got out my watercolors, sat down on my front porch and painted a favorite scene of Hilton Head Island from a photo I had taken recently. In the solace of this mindful activity clarity began to emerge.
The world is full of scarred souls - souls who don’t know how to love because they’ve never been loved or feel they don’t deserve love. Love is the very basic of all emotions. Everything emanates from there. So if we can’t love, we can’t connect, be open, grow, be happy, feel liked, love others etc. When we are void of fulfilling emotions and don't turn inward to work on what needs...
When we are stressed it can show up in our bodies if we don’t slow down and release what we can’t control. Stress is an illusion as are all thoughts. It’s tied to expectations we affix to ourselves based on our interpretation of what should be happening. The “should be happening” is the trip wire. To counter stress we neglect our personal needs because we think doing more is what gets things done. The problem with this thinking is that turning away from the feeling behind the stress only adds to it and creates a cycle of perfectionism which exhausts and defeats us because the standard we set for ourselves is not attainable.
I write, speak and coach about executive presence yet this week I could see myself not exhibiting it. Instead of getting curious about what was going on with me I soldiered on and kept working harder, eating whatever was handy instead of breaking for healthier choices and reflection. I thought, ”If I just catch up,...
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