When Someone Makes You Look Bad at Work

If you work anywhere you likely have had a colleague try to make you look bad. Most of my clients have had to struggle with this. It is disempowering and injects a fear of losing your job which ultimately leads to a fear of losing people who you love. This is where executive presence is crucial. This is where you don’t react at all. This is where you just pause, stare at them for a count of five and then ask, “Are you trying to make me look bad?” That will stop them dead.

Call them out with curiosity for exactly what they are doing. Don’t characterize them, get angry or defensive. Simply ask them if what it looks like they are doing is in fact what they are doing. If they deflect back to you say, “Ok, I wanted to get clarity on that because for a minute it felt like you were trying to make me look bad.” No one can argue with how you feel.

This scenario gives you a few moments to recenter yourself, for people on the periphery to validate in their...

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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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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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Eight Success Practices for New Leaders to Navigate the Corporate World

1. Be YOU-SMART first.

Self-awareness is a leading indicator of happiness and success because if you are aware of what is in your mind you can self-regulate a negative thought before it triggers bad behavior and cripples your executive presence. Don't retreat to a default behavior of lashing out, withdrawing, defensive posturing or paralysis. Be mindful of your thoughts. Become an observer of them without inserting yourself into the emotion of them. Be gentle with yourself. Be self-compassionate when you doubt yourself. If you know your strengths, play to them. Surround yourself with people who have your weaknesses as their strengths so that you may observe their behavior.

Define your personal values so that you know when you are out of alignment with them and can readjust in situations as opposed to trying to achieve an expectation that isn't in alignment with your authenticity. Personal values are simply the things you hold dear that no one can take away from you such as humor,...

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Five Tips When you Dread Having a Difficult Conversaton with an Employee

Recently I had a client tell me that when she opened a discussion with a direct report about a violation of the dress code the person erupted, quit on the spot and immediately left the workplace. We role played the discussion and how to frame such a discussion so as to depersonalize it.  

What I found most interesting is that the company rehired this person who abandoned the workplace the same day at another location in another leadership role. What???  

Now my client has to manage a team who knows the organization will tolerate unprofessional and insubordinate behavior. She has to gain respect from a team who knows they don’t have to listen or adhere to company policy to keep their job.  

We are now positioning her transferable skills for a company with a more solid culture. In the meantime here is a tip for when you need to have a difficult conversation with an employee.  

  1. Get out the company policy or company value they are violating. Seek...
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Don't Make This Mistake When They Call for the Interview

Recently a client told me of a firing squad interview experience that warrants a share and checklist. 

Thirteen candidates were interviewed in a large room, 20 feet apart, by 12 people who scored them on three questions. Their names were drawn from a hat as to who would go first for all three questions. Candidates could hear other candidate’s responses. There would be a second round of these interviews to reduce a pool of 26 candidates to 4. 

Question Checklist for When They Call to Schedule the Interview. Ask:

  1. Who will conduct the interview and their title. Who else will be present/title? 
  1. Where will the actual interview occur? Not just where do you meet the HR professional. 
  1. How much time is allocated for the interview? 
  1. What do you see as the biggest challenge of the position and what should I focus on in my preparation?  
  1. Please send me the complete job description? It may have not been posted online in its entirety.  
  2. ...
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The Tool to Narrow the Gap in the Equation of Career Happiness

Throughout my years as an executive coach I have seen people triumph over immense hardship while others falter over minutiae. I’ve seen a sense of urgency spearhead achievement while chronic victimization hamstring progress. I’ve been party to personal transformations because people risk vulnerability with great courage and I’ve seen stagnation be the end-product of complaining about unmet expectations. Most often the underachievers carry self-doubt that they don’t know how to convert to confidence. 

It’s pretty clear to me what makes people happy and empowered to create the life they want and what does not. It’s a simple equation. 

The Golden Rule of Happiness

The shorter the distance between what you want and where you are the happier you will be and the more risks you will take. 

You Want a Better Job

Let’s say you want to move up in your career, possibly changing companies. And right now you are in a miserable role. There...

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Breaking the Cycle of the Treadmill to Nowhere

As an executive coach I see three main challenges repeatedly surface for leaders seeking to better their careers, teams and relationships. 

  1. The Treadmill to Nowhere 

When things aren’t going well people get stressed and think that if they just try harder the situation will get better. They focus on one size-fits-all strategies such as – work more hours, hold more meetings, take a course, call a recruiter, network more, get another degree, put in for another promotion, change for the sake of change, read more self-help or business books. They think things will improve because of their fierce dedication when in fact doing more of the same just brings more disappointment, let down from unmet expectations, stress, lack of confidence and makes them feel exhausted on the treadmill to nowhere. They seek “more” instead of less. They can’t slow down enough to be vulnerable – to risk searching inside themselves where the answers always lie. So...

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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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