When You Want to Do Something Else

Every year at this time I ask my clients to designate one word for the year that will serve as a homing beacon for when life is confusing. This year I chose the world "ALLOW." I wrote the word in sand at our beach house, took a photo of it and put the image in a frame on my night stand where I look at it each evening before bed and each morning before I start my day. I've been doing this for years.

The word ALLOW served me well this year. I prevailed in my work on a $4.6 million capital campaign for an important project that serves under-resourced patients, supported my mother in an independent living facility, was executrix on my uncle's estate, overcame health challenges, celebrated a milestone birthday with the people I love - all while in the stress of a pandemic where people were sick and dying at the hospital where I am its Foundation's president.

I ALLOWED what was out of my control while focusing my energy on what was in my control. And for me a lot of that energy went...

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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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Three Questions to Eradicate Conflict

When I see conflict in the workplace it often relates to turf. Someone feels threatened. Something is at stake. Some compromise needs to be made that leaves people uncomfortable. And people retreat to their respective corners to protect their territory. After all, change means giving up something - Right?

Not always. Change often means opportunity. But opportunity is hard to see when shielded by the blinding rays of pride. And pride is the rose-colored sunglass of fear. “I’m not afraid. If he/she would just ___________ (do their job, not expect so much, leave things alone, be nicer to me, show respect) this problem would not be happening.”

When you are involved in conflict and feel the adrenaline rush grip you in a panic just pause. If you practice this, over time, you will be able to increase that “Pause Café space” between when you feel fear and negatively react to it, compromising your executive presence. In the pause moment ask yourself the...

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When It Makes You Cringe

Have you ever had a visceral reaction to a colleague where just to be around them made you cringe? Generally that discomfort is based in ego - your competitiveness gone haywire. We get triggered into fight-or-flight and our ego hates to lose.  

Prepare before these encounters by anticipating the experience going well - where you shift from being defensive to being CURIOUS about HIS ego and need to be right or superior. Imagine if you could watch her arm wrestling her ego because that is exactly what is happening when people are mean - they are at war with themselves. Happy people do not hurt one another or seek attention.

Be the curious servant leader. “Jean, I sense that I’m not meeting your needs. I want to be helpful. If I were meeting your needs, what exactly would that look like?” She will likely not be able to be specific because she’s so tied up in attention seeking ego. If she is specific you’ll have great intel.

Your coach,

Mary Lee

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Dealing with Work Drama

Direct communication is the best way to go through life. But instead, people practice avoidance (ignoring the person or the problem) or triangulation (bringing in a third person to validate that your condemnation is correct).  

Leadership expert Dr. Henry Cloud’s Law of Exposure says, “Life is better lived in the light — that is, things are better out in the open, even if these things are negative. Conflict or hard feelings cause a break in the connection between two people, and relationship can only be restored by communicating honestly. 

One of the biggest traps that we all fall into at one time or another is getting stuck in the whirlpool of unnecessary drama.” 

What I see is that avoidance of direct communication happens when we fear conflict. Rightly so. Everyone hates conflict. Except for those who thrive on drama - the most dangerously insecure people of all.  

But what if we shifted the perspective from conflict to...

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And They Said You Could Have It All

Dear {{first_name}},

Four years ago, I saw an opportunity to take on a dual role where I would be the CEO of two operations and expressed interest in doing so. I knew I could do both jobs but ultimately the organization wanted a CEO devoted only to them. Instead I developed with much more seriousness my executive coaching business and never looked back. 

Recently that same organization came to me and asked me if I would now run both organizations. I said no. 

My priorities are clear now. I like helping my clients far more than having more corporate power. And I love spending time with my family, friends and creating things. The one CEO role I have is enough. Imagine that - feeling like what you are doing is rewarding enough - high performing in an area you love. Not needing to do more to be happy. What a relief that is. 

If I take on more responsibility now I now evaluate it against whether or not it aligns with my values. If it does – it will ultimately be...

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The Five Biggest Mistakes People Make When Looking for a New Job

  1. They apply for jobs online with mass production speed, using the same resume. 

Slow down. Recruiters and talent acquisition professionals get an overwhelming number of applicants for each open position and must eliminate most of them. Your resume only stands out from the slush pile as a keeper when the hiring manager can 1) tell you understand the mission and goals of their organization, 2) have aligned your past experience with the role at hand and 3) have positioned at least one distinct “It-Factor” that intrigues them. Fashion your resume with the detail of a fine tailor. Reference organizational qualities you’ve learned from the website. Site news on the company or industry that you’ve researched online. Position internal contacts you’ve developed on LinkedIn and elsewhere as advocates to give you insight into the culture and to open a door for you.     

  1. They limit their search to the same industry and same size company....
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How New SMART Leaders Get the Position, High Level Project, Promotion, and Raise

Within the next 15 years, nearly 15% of the global workforce may need to switch jobs, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. By 2030, 75 million to 375 million workers will change occupation categories; another 400 to 800 million could be displaced by automation and need new jobs entirely. Workers may not have the necessary skills to transition into these roles. As highly repeatable tasks become increasingly automated, soft skills and emotional intelligence — critical thinking, communication, and collaboration — are even more essential.

You are a leader who has already mastered the SMART method of reaching goals that you learned in business school. You know that goals must be: S – Specific, M – Measurable, A – Attainable, R - Relevant and T – Time based. In today’s work environment that is not enough. At a certain level in leadership, everyone is smart, knows how to set goals, experienced and highly capable; those traits are no longer...

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