A Client Letter - You're Bad Leader

Below is a note I recently received from a client that although makes me sad, it carries great wisdom. This high performing executive leader was leaving an organization she loved and had relocated for with mixed feelings. As is often the case, she was leaving because of her boss.

 

Good morning Mary Lee,

I have one more week reporting to this woman that has made the last 14 months of my life incredibly difficult. The exit process has been even more difficult.

In 20 years in the workplace I have never experienced anything like this from someone at this woman's level. 

Every leader has opportunity, but I do not believe there are many who behave as badly as what I have witnessed over the past year.

I am also amazed how her leaders look away, an ostrich to this woman's behavior. I am not personalizing this (thank you Mary Lee), I understand it is simply inconvenient to disrupt the status quo or face the difficult conversations or the admit that perhaps it was a mistake to...

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One Thing for Your Well-being, Career Efficacy & Executive Presence

Two years ago on a cold December day I felt stressed and overwhelmed so I made a commitment to do something about it, not unlike what many people do as the New Year approaches. I ordered a very expensive and really pretty planner. (Since when did planners start costing $85?) About a week into it I found myself writing mindful daily practices in the margins to hold myself accountable. Three weeks later I was writing my daily goals in the margins too. Four weeks later I was recreating the entire page, ignoring what was on it.

Five weeks into it I tried another planner. Two weeks into using that one I was now writing in the margins again – my gratitude thoughts, how I was feeling – daily practices that help release the negativity we often don’t spend time processing and then can’t let go of. (Dreadful feeling.) I already had a calendar for my to-do list and appointments. I needed a planner for my well-being and big goals. 

Over two months I ordered six...

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The Best Tip for Career Advancement

People ask me all the time for my best tip for career advancement. It isn't who you know or what company you work for. It isn't what title you have or what social group you belong to. It is unequivocally the ability to self-regulate your emotions in real time so that you exude the executive presence that draws a loyal following. Period. There are plenty of smart people who don't advance and it isn’t because they aren't capable.

At any moment you may be called on to have confidence to risk, to have candor to create connections or calmness to cool fury. They don't teach this in business school because it's personal to you.

This graphic illustrates one process my clients work on to build executive presence. Become good at untangling life messages that are really only assumptions. You assume you will be judged when in all truth people want you to succeed. You assume you'll be overwhelmed when forging ahead has served you before. You assume your idea isn't important yet when...

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Ask Yourself These Questions About Your Manager

Job seekers anguish over how they will appear on an interview so much that they often forget that the manager they will report to is also auditioning for them. Your manager has the most power of anyone in the company to advance your career. Before you work for someone make sure they have the capacity to teach you things you don't know and steward your career - either directly or indirectly.

I have had many mentors throughout my career who never knew they were my mentors. I studied their behavior, as well as their sense of process and connection. You dont have to ask someone formally to be your mentor to learn from them

Be selective in who you will work for. Not just what company - what manager. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does she want me to learn or just perform?
  2. Will he challenge me?
  3. Will she have my back?
  4. Will I be comfortable having his back?
  5. Will I be ready for her job or a promotion in two years because of what she wants for me?
  6. Is he a servant leader?
  7. Will I be...
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Special Offer - 90 Seconds to Ease Cards for Executive Presence

I AM SO EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE THIS! I have spent the fall writing and designing a very special set of go-to practice cards that capture the essence of how I teach my clients to have and maintain executive presence. They are ready in time for the holidays!

When tense moments threaten your executive presence 90 Seconds to Ease Cards bring you confidence, connection and calm before you do, write or say something you regret.

What you'll get:

• 10 beautifully designed cards with 90-second go-to strategies to serve as your private coach in difficult moments.
• The ease of having something quick and sturdy at your fingertips to address anxiety with flow on the go.
• A unique and thoughtful gift for congratulating someone in a new role, a special occasion or for yourself.
• An easily accessible tool to carry with you anytime or have handy in your desk, briefcase or nightstand.

You don't want to get emotional at a meeting. You don't want to lash out or withdraw at a...

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The Difference Between Confidence and Self-Esteem

"Being an upstander very often means standing alone, which takes guts," writes Jennifer Merritt, Editor in Chief, Digital at PwC.

“Most people are bystanders--not because they don't want to stand up, but because they're afraid to speak up, afraid of repercussions, don't observe the world around them enough, or simply because they don't know what to do or say in the moment. To be an upstander among bystanders takes courage and conviction.”

In my work and in my coaching practice I often see people with confidence who do not have high self-esteem. They are not the same thing. Confidence is being competent. Self-esteem is knowing you belong. 

Out the limiting false-belief that holds you back - that message that plays like a broken record in your head. It usually sounds like this....”I’m not _______ enough.”

Then name everything believing that has cost you. Now what would life be like without that thought?

You are resilient. And you belong living your...

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Holding a Hand for the First Time

Last summer my father passed away. It was a difficult time for me as I know it is for any of you who have a dying parent or who have lost a loved one. I did a lot of journaling during that time and I share the passage below with you in hope that it inspires you to embrace the difficult feelings of grief. My wish is that you may process and won the feelings you turn away from - that you allow them to flow through you - not get struck inside you and fester. That is how we have freedom. Namaste.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Last night I held a hand for the first time. Indeed throughout my life I have held many hands - extending myself to help, reaching for comfort, joining in an act of love. But last night I held the hand of a man who knows he is dying and it felt like we were the only two people in the world. 

My father is the epitome of grace, leadership, and strength. At the end of his life all of these qualities still stand in spite of a failing body. I coach and train on mindfulness, the...

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The Dos and Don’ts of Executive Presence When the Pressure is On

When you are in that high-stakes meeting, sales presentation, interaction, or conflict your executive presence is both emotional and physiological. Your thoughts race and your heart rate escalates. People watch you. How do you execute when the pressure is on?

Confidence and self-esteem are two different things. Both are essential for executive presence. Confidence is being capable, but that isn’t enough. Self-esteem is feeling worthy – that you belong. We build both intentionally by challenging ourselves and regulating our emotions in the moment. That means you know the goal but focus on being your best without pre-occupation with your performance. Slow down your breathing and move your focus from anxious thoughts to following your breath. That clearing allows you to observe your behavior before emotions move you into a fight-or-flight mentality.   

A prime athlete trains to win. When the game is played she isn’t focused on the score, just...

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Five Ways to Establish a Strong Leadership Brand

Create a five-column matrix and fill in the blanks with responses to the following points. When we have humility to mindfully accept the truth of our situation on paper, it gives us a tangible and actionable plan to execute and track. 

  1. Your Aspiration: List three things you want to be known for.   

If you aren’t sure, imagine you were giving your retirement speech. Looking back, what would you comment on as your most fulfilling accomplishments? 

  1. Their Perception: What do you suppose your colleagues would say about you now? Be honest. 

Ask yourself this: What would be said about you at your funeral by 1) a friend 2) a family member and 3) a work colleague? What would those who don’t care for you say? 

  1. Your Reality: Ask five people you work closely with how they would describe you at work.

Send an email to five unbiased people with whom you have worked over the last year. Tell them you are working on your leadership...

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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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