Good Cop, Bad Cop, Which One are You?

There were three of us on the conference call line; my direct report, another female colleague, for whom we are developing an e-learning program, and I.  We were discussing the framework, the content and the training audience.  My direct had already put together an outline and asked for feedback to ensure she was heading in the right direction.  Our colleague, new to the organization, wasn’t able to answer our questions.  Rather than be honest and tell us she wasn’t sure, she tried to answer vaguely to provide some kind of a response.  It was clear to us she lacked clarity about the project.  Then to cover this up, she praised the work we had already completed.

My direct, who worked on the project, appreciated this praise.  I understand we all need to feel valued at work, but this was not a good use of my time.  She listened raptly as our new colleague praised her for the “clean look” of the PowerPoint slides.  I muted my phone and tried to listen to the friendly banter, hoping it would lead to some useful information, but it didn’t.  After several minutes, I stepped in.  I suggested she find the answers to our questions and get back to us.  We would wait to hear from her before we continued to work on the project.  I ended the call and moved on to my next meeting.

Later that night, as I reflected on my day, I wondered if I handled the situation properly.  Was I too hard on the new hire?  Did I offend her in any way?  Should I have taken a more understanding approach?  I wasn’t abusive, that I know, but I may have been unnecessarily abrupt.

The next day, I checked with my direct and asked for feedback – “Was I too hard on her?”  She replied, well there’s always a good cop and a bad cop in situations like these.  She was telling me, I was the bad cop!  My goal as a leader is to be a servant leader, a term coined by Robert K. Greenleaf, in “The Servant as Leader.”  The concept is simple, a servant leader is one who shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people perform and develop as highly as possible.  That last part is most important to me.  As a coach, I help others be successful their business careers.

If I were to do it over, I would ask her a couple of questions, rather than end the call.  The first question would be:  What is preventing you from getting clarity on this project?  The second question is:  How can we assist you in getting this clarity?  We may not have been able to solve anything on the phone, but it certainly would have given us some insights and potentially helped us move the project forward.  Instead, I shut the door on helping her, and that is not the kind of leader I am or want to be.

Two days later, I met her.  She was apologetic for not knowing the answers and then reminded me she is only with the organization for three weeks.  I could tell from her comments and demeanor that she isn’t getting the support she needs to be successful in her new role.  We have plans to go to lunch next week.  The servant leader in me wants to help her be successful.  What type of leader are you?

If you liked today’s article, you’re welcome to use it in your own ezine or blog as long as you include the following blurb:

Doris Braun, Leadership Development and Executive Coach, helps women business leaders promote themselves, transition to new leadership positions and take on new career challenges.  Follow her on www.LeadershipSolutionsforWomen.com and Twitter @dorisbraun.

Courtesy says you matter to me, a lesson in service and leadership

Master-Bathroom-Remodel-Cost

This morning, my contractor and his wrecking crew are coming to demolish the hall bathroom in my home.  It’s the start of a bathroom makeover.  Of course, there has been a lot of planning leading up to today.  I worked with different people in order to pull this together.  Two women were instrumental to me.  Gina, a tile expert, helped me select the right tiles and designed the look of the bathroom.  Janet, a fixtures specialist, helped me select the tub, sink, faucets, etc.  Here is a short story on how I dropped the ball, twice, and how my advisors handled each situation.

Gina called me a week ago and said that delivery was arranged for Monday, would I please call back with my credit card.  She followed up with an email, to which I replied, “please call me again and when you do, I will pick up.”  Gina didn’t call, and I went on a week-long business trip.  This past Friday, I received an email from her asking to please call by 4pm with the credit card number.  I saw the email at 4:30!  I was really concerned I was going to delay the start of my own home project!  I emailed Gina and even though she had already started her weekend, she replied, “Don’t worry, we will still deliver.  Please call the warehouse over the weekend.”  I was really impressed and grateful for this excellent customer service.  Yes, I was a repeat client, but the last time I used them was about 8 years ago!

The same week, I called Janet and left a voicemail asking her to deliver on Monday.  I found out on Saturday, when visiting Janet in the showroom, that delivery was not arranged.  She started to hurl excuses at me, ‘You never called me,’ and ‘I told you I need at least two days notice.’  I was clearly disappointed, but said “I don’t want to argue with you,” to which she replied – “I am not arguing, I just want to be sure you understand this is not my fault.”  I chuckled when I heard that.  In the end, delivery is Tuesday, a one day delay, which is no big deal.

In each case, a ball was dropped, and yes, I do take responsibility.  I realize this is a simple story with a happy ending, but ‘dropped balls’ happen all the time in business.  How we react to them impacts our business success and client relationships.  Do we react like Gina and find solutions for our clients or like Janet and point blame at them?  Gina was courteous and will receive many referrals from me.  Janet wasn’t, and it hurt our business relationship (yes, I was a repeat client there too).  Courtesy and a willingness to work with others will leave a positive impression.  Whether you are a small business owner, a leader in Corporate America, or an entrepreneur, courtesy says you matter to me.  Be courteous, and the people you work with will know that they matter to you.

Coffee can advance your career

Recently, a client told me that her manager asked her to coffee.  She didn’t accept the invite because she had meetings scheduled.  Logically, this makes sense.  We don’t want to negatively impact colleagues and their schedules, and we don’t want to disrupt our schedules.   So we do what is best for everyone in the organization, and arrange with our manager’s admin a mutually agreeable time to have coffee, right?  WRONG!

We don’t always know what our managers are thinking about or even how they think.  When they ask us for coffee that means they want to tell us what’s on their mind.  The best course of action, regardless of what we have planned, is to go and listen to them.

There are many reasons for accepting a meeting even though our schedule won’t allow it, here are three:

  1. It signals to your manager that you are loyal to them.  Senior leaders want people on their teams that will jump through hoops for them and ultimately, make them look good.  If you make them look good, they will take care of you.
  2. If your manager has an ego of self-importance, better you feed it rather than starve it.  If you signal they aren’t that important to you then you may, ultimately, not be important to them.  This can be a bad career move.
  3. In the world of improv, one of the most important rules in creating improvisation is “YES, and.”  Saying Yes, moves the scene forward.  Nos stop a scene in its tracks.  Similar to business, when we say YES to opportunities, it can potentially move our careers forward.  Saying no, especially to a senior leader, can stall and may even negatively impact our careers.

What do you think happened to this client when she declined the coffee invite?  She immediately set up a time to meet that worked for both of their calendars.  I don’t’ know if it was a week, a day or an hour later, but I do know that her manager cancelled on her.  Why?  Perhaps, her schedule now didn’t allow for the meeting, or she decided to pull rank.  Most likely, the meeting was no longer important to her.  Whatever was on her mind, whatever was critical to discuss at that time, passed.  And my client will now never know what that conversation was going to be about.

When your manager makes time to have coffee with you, make time for them.

If you liked today’s article, you’re welcome to use it in your own ezine or blog as long as you include the following blurb:
Doris Braun, Leadership Development and Executive Coach, helps women business leaders promote themselves, transition to new leadership positions and take on new career challenges.  Follow her on www.LeadershipSolutionsforWomen.com and Twitter @dorisbraun.

We are Paid for our Judgment, Not for our Stamina

Arianna Huffington June 18, 2014Resumes list our accomplishments and highlight our skills.  Where do we state that we are willing to work 12 hour days?  What part of the resume lists that we are willing to log back in and work more as soon as we get home from the office?  Did you mention “willing to work weekends and ignore your family” under Hobbies?  Of course not!  Then why do so many of this fall into this trap?  Somewhere, someone led us to believe that we are paid for our stamina – working long hours means future success.  Well, it doesn’t.  As a matter of fact studies show that the less sleep we have, the less productive, creative and effective we are, at work and at home.

So for all of you women out there, who are trying to burn the candle at both ends, here are my recommendations to help you achieve more, while getting more sleep:

Start Delegating!
The number one reason I hear women AND men say that they don’t delegate is because they can do it better themselves.  In all of the leadership programs I have led, this comes up time and time again, without fail.  I will tell you what I tell them:  Stop thinking you can do it better than anyone else.  If you keep doing the jobs yourself, you will remain in this position for the rest of your career.  And if for some reason, it is actually true that you can do it better than anyone else, you are in the worst shape of all, because you have surrounded yourself with a team that is not going to lift you up – they are only going to bring you down.

What will you be able to achieve for yourself and your organization if you start to delegate?

Hire People Smarter than you!
Surround yourself with smart and talented people, who will help you executive and deliver your initiatives.  You will learn more, achieve more, and get ahead faster by building a team that helps everyone succeed.

Why are you hiring people who know as much as or less than you?

Network and Build Relationships
Do this with people inside of your organization.  You will be more successful when you are able to work with others and through others.  You cannot influence people you don’t know.  And if you can’t influence people, then you will never make it into a senior leadership position.  Influence is the key skill leaders at the top have mastered.

What would you be able to achieve if you strengthened relationships with your colleagues?

Schedule Family and/or Me time
What doesn’t get prioritized doesn’t get done.  We need to recharge to be effective in the office and at home.  Don’t think you can go 24/7 and still be happy, enthusiastic, joyful and helpful to others.  Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep or else you will create negative effects on your body and health.

What do you have to do differently to get to bed earlier?

I heard Arianna Huffington speak this morning in NYC.  She had me laughing out loud when she said “No one is going to read your Linkedin Profile as your eulogy.”  Mary was able to increase sales by 58%….  Not going to happen!  So let’s be GREAT at what we do, without killing ourselves.  Create the life you want today.  If not now, when?

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!

Las Vegas March 2014

 

What an experience I had!  I just came back from my first trip to Las Vegas.  Crazy things can happen there, right?  The Hangover trilogy depicts the epitome of Vegas craziness.  My crazy story has to do with leadership.  What?  I know, not many people equate Las Vegas stories with leadership skills, but then again, how many people do you know that went dune buggy racing in the desert?  That’s what I did with my business coaches and some of the people in the mastermind group.

This was an optional event, I didn’t have to go, but I asked myself:  When was the last time you did something for the first time?  I didn’t have an answer, so I knew it was time to shake things up.  We have to keep challenging ourselves with new experiences, otherwise we stop growing.  So, I signed up!

Yes, I was nervous.  I didn’t know what to expect and I made the mistake of going on the dune buggy website to see what it was all about.  Of course, their videos were extreme!  As a result of watching them, I considered backing out.  Instead, I stopped watching the videos!  I am so glad I went.  This is what I learned while speeding through the desert.

Whether you are leading yourself, your business or your career, here are four leadership lessons we can all implement:

1.  There are NO rear view mirrors on a dune buggy.  You don’t need them because your focus is on the trail ahead.  It doesn’t matter what is happening behind you, or what the others are doing, your focus is and should only be on the treacherous trail and the dune buggy ahead of you.  *  To be a successful leader, we need to stay focused on the road ahead.  We can’t rest on our laurels and shouldn’t dwell on our past mistakes.
FOCUS on the future.

2.  During our 10-minute orientation, they told us we don’t need the brakes.  “Drive it like you just stole it” was the advice we were given.  The point was to keep moving because we were chasing our guide.  When you chase after something, you don’t need brakes.  *  In our personal and professional lives, the only way we can achieve results is to take action.  Thinking about making a move, or studying our strategy does not get us any closer to achieving our business goals.
Floor it!

3.  The terrain was so rocky and rough (I expected more sand), that we had to learn a new way to hold the steering wheel.  We needed a looser grip and to place our thumbs on the outside of the wheel.  There were times I only had my palms on the wheel, or totally let go (which is so not like me!).  Holding on too tight can result in sprained or broken thumbs and an inability to steer the buggy.  *  Being in total control of every career or business situation is not always possible.  To be successful, we need to adapt to new and changing environments. 
Be Flexible!

4.  There were several times I couldn’t see a thing, due to sandstorms or because of the hilly drop-offs (yes, we all went airborne a few times!).  We were taught to follow the buggy in front of us.  This was probably the scariest for me because this meant I had to trust the guide, someone I just met 10 minutes ago.  Trust is difficult for me because I crave certainty, and I want assurances, and guarantees.  *  In the dune buggy, as in business, life and careers, there are no certainties.  You have to find people, who have been successful and are a several steps ahead of you so you can learn from them.
Have Faith in others.

In summary, to be successful as a leader of ourselves, our businesses or our careers, we must:
1.  Focus on the Future – Don’t worry about your past.

2.  Floor it – Stop thinking about what you are going to do and Take Action!

3.  Be Flexible in new environments – we can’t control everything;

4.  Have Faith in others – hire coaches, employees, and business partners, who are steps ahead of you to show you the way.

I am so glad I am connected with this adventurous group of business professionals.  They challenge me to take risks I wouldn’t take on my own.  Who do you have in your life that challenges you? 

 

If you liked today’s article, you’re welcome to use it in your own ezine or blog as long as you include the following blurb:

Doris Braun, Leadership Development and Executive Coach, helps women business leaders promote themselves, transition to new leadership positions and take on new career challenges.  Follow her on www.LeadershipSolutionsforWomen.com and Twitter @dorisbraun.

Three Lessons from Powerful Women in Finance

Powerful Women

In January, The College of New Rochelle in Westchester County, New York hosted an event called Powerful Women in Finance.  Three women from banking giants spoke to an audience of 400+ career women (and a few men) in banking, financial services, publishing, legal, medical, and entrepreneurial pursuits.  Their messages were clear, authentic, honest and yes, powerful.  The women, Peyton Patterson, Suni Harford and Carla Harris, provided us with pearls of wisdom from the stage.  Here are the three lessons we learned from them that day to help us be powerful in our careers:

1.  Mentors / Sponsors
While they took different forms, all agreed they were necessary to climb the corporate ladder.  Suni said that she had a few along the way; there was no one person in particular that helped her make the climb.  Carla advised she had a ‘script mentor,’ someone who allowed her to practice WHAT to say and HOW to say it, before she actually did.

Sponsors played a key role in my corporate career too.  Read more about it in this  careerintelligence.com article.

2.  Game Changing Moment
Each woman talked about a defining moment in her career.  These moments were not positive, uplifting ones.  They were negative, challenging, and quite upsetting to each of the panelists.  They told us this moment became game changing for them because of the way they handled it.  Yes, each was upset by the news, but each decided to do something positive about it.  They took a difficult situation, created a strategy, and took positive action to advance themselves.

How do you want to fight your battles?  These women suggested finding a positive solution, taking action, and turning negative moments into something you are proud of.  What we do in our difficult moments will determine our success.

3.  Having it all
All three women had different approaches to this, which goes to show us there is NO right or wrong approach.  We each need to find what works for us.  Whether we compromise each day on how we spend our time, or compartmentalize our time to ensure that we can squeeze it all in, the key is to define it for yourself.

What makes you happy?  What does happiness look like to you? Make sure you add things that bring you JOY every day.

In summary, here are three keys to creating your own powerful career:

1. Find a sponsor and/or a mentor in your organization.  Find someone, who believes in you, and your potential.  Talk to them, learn from them, and ask them questions.  They will help you avoid the mistakes they made.

2. Take positive action, even when situations are difficult.  Be positive, hopeful and productive and, you will turn the situation around in your favor.

3. Define your life for yourself.  Don’t let others tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing.  You determine your own happiness.

When we do this, we will surely be successful in our careers and in our lives.

The Women

  • Suni Harford, Managing Director and Regional Head of Markets for North America at Citi
  • Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management, Managing Director and Senior Client Adviser at Morgan Stanley
  • Peyton R. Patterson, President and CEO of Bankwell Financial Group

REinvention is the Mother of Necessity; Five Steps to Reinventing yourself for your next career

career-change_scrabbleI had coffee with a friend in New York City this week. When she asked about my business, I told her about the women I coach and the training solutions I create for my corporate clients.

Her follow-up questions indicated she was less interested in WHAT I do and more interested in HOW I made the transition from Wall Street to entrepreneur. It was then that I realized Lisa was considering her own REINVENTION and wanted to know what she needed to do to reinvent herself.

In the 1970s, women left home to join the workforce. Now, women are leaving corporate America to become entrepreneurs.  ForbesWoman wrote an article last year titled Entrepreneurship is the New Women’s Movement. http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2012/06/08/entrepreneurship-is-the-new-womens-movement/ Because I am a part of this movement, I decided to share the steps I followed to reinvent myself and create a new career.

Follow these five steps and you’ll be on your way to your own REINVENTION:

  1. Know What You Want
    Please don’t leave your corporate position, your paycheck, and your health benefits to ‘find yourself’ (unless you can afford to do this). Know what you want to achieve, and have a vision for yourself. This will allow you to create a plan. If you’re not sure what you want to do, ask yourself these questions: What do I truly enjoy doing? What am I enjoying when I lose track of time? What comes easily to me?

    So many women have an interest, but dismiss it because they don’t think they can monetize their idea. You still have a job, so don’t worry about the money. Just identify what you love to do and would be willing to do all day, every day.

  2. Take the First Step
    As I considered my own reinvention, I talked about coaching as a career, but I wasn’t taking any decisive action. In fact, I was ALL talk and NO action! My coach said to me, “Take one step in the direction of your vision.” I did, and signed up for a coaching course at New York University. The rest, as they say, is history.After you’ve identified what you enjoy doing, take a course, educate yourself, and learn as much as you can about your interest. Please stop THINKING about it and take decisive action.
  3. Shadow Other Professionals
    To ‘try on’ careers within coaching and corporate training, I shadowed two business professionals to see what was right for me. As a result of those experiences, I knew the direction to take because I could envision myself in that role.Lisa reminded me that we tell our children to shadow professionals, but we don’t heed our own advice. Shadowing allows us to get a feel for the position and helps us visualize ourselves in the role. If I hadn’t done this, I would have gone down the wrong path and wasted a lot of time, energy and earning potential.
  4. Take the (Part-Time) Plunge
    Thankfully, NYU recommended everyone in the coaching program start coaching pro bono. Once you find what you enjoy doing, do it on a part-time basis and for free. The pressure is off, because no one expects you to be an expert. Enjoy writing? Blog something. Enjoy baking? Bake for your friends and neighbors. To borrow from Nike, whatever your passion, just do it!
  5. Learn From Others
    Once I completed my studies, I realized even though I was successful IN business, I wasn’t experienced at building my OWN business. I immediately started to work with coaches, who have created their own successful coaching businesses. There’s no need to recreate the wheel.Women often don’t ask for help. Please believe me: there’s no shame in asking for help. To quote Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  That’s why I spend my time with successful business owners, who are generating 6- and 7-figure incomes.

Now that you know what you need to do, when will you start your REINVENTION?

 

If you liked today’s article, you’re welcome to use it in your own ezine or blog as long as you include the following blurb:

Doris Braun, Leadership Development and Executive Coach, helps women business leaders promote themselves, transition to new leadership roles and take on new career challenges.  Follow her on www.LeadershipSolutionsforWomen.com and Twitter @dorisbraun.

You better be RUNNING, not walking; Three ways to improve body language for career advancement

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I run the track at our local high school.  Towards the end of the summer, the Fall sports programs begin and the student athletes start to work out with their coaches.  I love to watch the girls’ soccer team practice, because I played soccer during high school and college.

I was a forward, a striker.  I loved the game and that position, because a striker’s responsibility was to do what it takes to score goals for the team.  I will never forget my first goal, I was a freshman in high school.  The ball was coming from the left side of the field and I could tell as it approached me that it would be placed perfectly in front of my right foot.  As the ball was mid-air, I told myself, “Doris, you are going to kick the ball and score a goal.  I kicked it and it went high, over the goalie’s head and into the net.  The next thing I knew my teammates surrounded me, hugging me and cheering.  We won that game.

As I was running the local track, the girls and coaches took the field for stretches and warm-ups.  A latecomer arrived and was walking across the field towards her team.  As I watched her, I thought to myself, ‘Gee, if that were me and I was late, I would be running towards the team, apologizing to the coach and getting my butt on the field as quickly as I could.’  Just as I finished my thought, I heard the coach yell to this girl, “You better be running, not walking!”  She immediately picked up her pace and ran.

Prior to the coach “advising” her to run, what was she thinking?  She could see she was late; all the other girls were already warming up.  What made her think that she could just walk over; why didn’t she have a sense of urgency?  Whether she knew it or not, her body language was speaking volumes on her behalf and it wasn’t speaking positively.  She appeared to be saying, “Yeah, I’m late, so what, I’m here now.”  I couldn’t believe she needed the coach to tell her to hurry it up.

What does your body language tell your management and co-workers?  Do you have an appropriate sense of urgency, or do you wander around?  Are you present in each conversation or are you mentally checked-out?  Do proactively interact during team meetings, or do you sit quietly while others are sharing their ideas?  What we do and how we do it says a lot more to the people around us than just our words.

Monitoring ourselves is key to how we present ourselves as leaders, role models and someone worthy of promotion.  What we are thinking and feeling on the inside does not remain there.  When thoughts or attitudes are negative, they present themselves in the form of lateness, detachment, unawareness, distancing, poor quality and the list goes on.  We may think we are fooling people because we show up each day and complete our tasks, but we are only fooling ourselves.  Everyone around us is aware and can easily see that we are not totally engaged in our work, with the team, or the company.

Here are three ways to monitor how we present ourselves to others:

  1. How we think is typically how we behave.  We own our thoughts and attitudes.  Don’t like what you are thinking, you are the only one that can change it.  Take responsibility and ownership for negative thoughts and attitudes.  Focus on your strengths, your abilities, and your goals.  Think positively, and you will act positively.
  2. Our beliefs will allow us to flourish or remain stagnant.  If you believe you won’t be successful, you won’t.  Time to banish those limiting beliefs in order to achieve further success.  If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else?
  3. Carry yourself as if you have achieved the next level of career success.  Managers promote individuals, who are already performing at the next level.  Raise your standards, hold yourself accountable, and do what you say you are going to do.  By performing at a higher level, you will make it easier for management to take notice and eventually promote you.

Next time you aren’t speaking, what are you telling the people around you?

If you liked today’s article, you’re welcome to use it in your own ezine or blog as long as you include the following blurb:

Doris Braun, Leadership Development and Executive Coach, helps women business leaders promote themselves, transition to new leadership roles and take on new career challenges.  Follow her on www.LeadershipSolutionsforWomen.com and Twitter @dorisbraun.