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...

Continue Reading...

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...

Continue Reading...

Do This One Thing to Minimize Conflict

Most conflict in the world comes from the need to be right - even the conflict you have with yourself. Your ego tells you that you aren’t safe unless you’re right so you argue, defend, act out, withdraw or stand firm on something that most likely is out of your control. 

When you find your opinion is a little too strong or there’s a feeling that makes you uncomfortable that’s the very time to pause and ask yourself, “What am I trying hard not to face? That I’ll be _________ if this doesn’t change?”

Draw closer to the nasty feeling that chases you down. Name it. That disarms it’s power. “This is what it feels like to feel ______.” Then give yourself a break. “May I be gentle with myself in this moment. I’ve got this one.”

You’re amazing. Don’t ever forget that.

Here is a free tool to help you navigate your career in a complicated corporate setting: 31 Success Practices for...

Continue Reading...

Two Questions to Ask When the Issue is Generational

I hear so much in our culture about the differences in the generations. I even hear people identifying themselves by a generation. I think it’s wise to understand people’s differences but I think identifying someone’s behavior with a certain generation is no different than identifying them with a race, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin.

When I hear, “Millennials are the way they are because their parents spoiled them” or “Boomers can’t keep up with technology” I wonder how comfortable people would feel saying, “Hispanics are the way they are because their parents spoiled them” or “Catholics can’t keep up with technology.” Calling out by generation to make a point is elitist, discriminating and insulting.

When you find in a conflict that you are putting someone in a generational box before you characterize them ask yourself, 

“What do they really need me to understand about...

Continue Reading...

The Two Things That Kill Careers and Happiness

We continually strategize on the things we need to do to advance our careers, close the sale, be happier, have better relationships and get what we want. More often than not it is what we need to cease doing that gives us the most power.

  1. Don’t discount your dreams.

I used to live life from a “but at least it’s not ______” perspective. I thought this was being positive because I could always think of something worse. This was an OK way of remaining optimistic in the face of adversity until it became habit for all of life and halted my ability to envision the openness of wonder. 

It wasn’t until I was aware of this that I began to risk shifting to the vulnerable choice of exploring joy without expecting it to be short lived. To ushering in opportunity that I knew was meant for me without holding onto fear. To seeing all that was there with the curiosity of a child. This ability to stay in the moment without fast forwarding to an anticipated ending...

Continue Reading...

High Tech Meet High Touch

High Tech meet High Touch. There is so much being done in companies around diversity and inclusion - which are not at all the same thing by the way. But I see little focus in either area to include AGE. 

Five generations are in the workforce right now and there is so much to learn from each other. Roughly 40% of US workers have a boss who is younger than them. 

How do we stop discounting the sage worker who has wisdom, mentoring skills, intuitive experience, relationship building acumen and historical perspective bar none? I have clients with expertise beyond compare in these areas who are being forced out as if their skills are passé. So unwise. Profoundly foolish. 

If you fall in this category and would like my white paper on how to avoid age bias feel free to email or message me at [email protected] Or if you want to know how to better utilize this age group in your company the same article will make it clear.

Let’s all open our thought and...

Continue Reading...

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...

Continue Reading...

What are you going to remember about Christmas? – The Happy Holiday’s Plan

What do you actually want to happen this Christmas? Are expectations already making you tense? After all we have been fed for two months via television, radio and print what the ‘perfect’ Christmas should look like. You know you don’t want to feel loneliness, fear and anxiety. Be the creator of what you want.

The Happy Holiday’s Plan

  1. Discard the goal of the magazine or TV perfect holiday. Perfection is not a strategy to happiness. Actually, it is the antithesis. Seeking it distances us from the intimacy of kinder and gentler moments. 
  1. Discard expectations. They are an excuse for not welcoming and accepting the people we love just as they are – that includes ourselves. 
  1. Create a vision of what you want from this holiday. Imagine it is January 2nd and you are reflecting back on Christmas. What will have happened for this to have been a great holiday? Were you present with people who are most important to you or did you commit to so much...
Continue Reading...

How to Let Go

This week a very capable client was struggling with some of the work I am having her do around ‘doubt’ and ‘letting go.’ She said she “came up blank” on what she was angry about, what she can terminate right now, where she feels shame and what she feared.  

Questioning our thoughts and feelings often uncovers that they are assumptions and not true at all. These questions help you get deeply into the thoughts and feelings that hold you back - keep you guarded, resentful or powerless. Nobody wants to face them. But, if we don’t they chase us down the rest of our lives. Think of the last time you lashed out, withdrew, or quit something. What FEELING was at the heart of the behavior? I want you to be able to re-examine that feeling as to whether it is an assumption or really true. (This photo shows the process of finding the pause moment to accomplish this strategy.

She then shared that she does feel shame around weight and being...

Continue Reading...

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...
Continue Reading...
1 2 3
Close

50% Complete

Welcome! Thanks for signing up!

You will be sent an email with a link each time Mary Lee Gannon updates the Executive Coach's Blog. It's great to have you with us!