capabilityCapability is daring yourself to stretch and see that you don’t have a limit to your potential.

A former boss used to say, “whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” When she would say this, I’d roll my eyes and think, oh what a Pollyanna! However if you examine how our brains work, she’s right! Our brain is designed to filter out information that doesn’t fit with our self-image or capability. Continue reading


You can’t get your big on without it

Today’s guest author is Margie Analise, mentor, motivator and spark plug of success who helps women entrepreneurs ignite extraordinary in their life and business. Margie offers a free coaching course, or you can send her your question about life, style or business, and you could be featured in her Q&A video segment, Spotlight + Solution!

self-confidenceWhether your other role as a woman is entrepreneur, working mom, business leader, or something in between, there is a synergy of two elements that creates a key so crucial to your success in business and life, that you can’t get your big on without it.

Before I tell you what it is, I want to share a little story with you of how this key was revealed to me through a very powerful personal experience. Continue reading


Ego wins, project loses

Ever have one of those days where you’re feeling blue because something really worthwhile is going to come to an end because the person in charge says they want help but really don’t?

That’s me today.

A leader asked several individuals, myself included, for our help in getting a project off the cliff’s edge of financial collapse. The calibre of the individuals providing advice is impressive; what they have to say moves me. Their intelligence and passion are formidable. They care. Continue reading


Leaders: rewarding hat tricks or planning?

don't reward hat tricksListening to the CEO of the $500m manufacturing firm describe the exploits of his operations vice president was fascinating:

“Louis was an incredible leader…again. When the product defect was discovered, he told his team to do whatever was needed to fix it. After two weeks of all-hands-on-deck work, Louis got the glitch Continue reading


Dare to think differently

“It’s fascinating when Sally and Greg are in the same meeting. You can count on Sally to point out what’s wrong and Greg to focus on what’s right. Together they make the perfect glass half-empty, half-full pair.”

Sally and Greg’s styles represent two of Dr. Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats™ - an effective method for moving beyond limiting mindsets: I’m right/you’re wrong, confrontation, either/or, number-cruncher. Continue reading


5 ways for leaders to reframe, connect and grow

Leaders are immersed in metrics, perpetually measuring and quantifying business performance in pursuit of the next improvement, double-digit growth or to beat the market.

Too bad there isn’t a similar quest for connections.

Connecting is good for individuals and for business. The research is a little dated, yet back in the late nineties Sears discovered that a 5%increase in employee satisfaction produced a 1.3% positive bump in customer satisfaction which, in turn, yielded a 0.5% increase in revenue growth. How? Leaders transcending “it’s all about me and/or the bottom line” by building connections and relationships.

People do the work, so connecting with them should be high on a leader’s priority list, right alongside strategizing, budgeting and planning the next acquisition. In Touchpoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments, Doug Conant and Mette Norgaard write, “Each of the many interactions you have during your day is an opportunity to establish high performance expectations, to infuse with greater clarity and more energy, and to influence the course of events.”

5 ways for leaders to connect

Try one (or more) of these five ways to build and foster meaningful associations (not just clicking a “like” icon!) with your work team, employees, colleagues, others within your company, and with the wider world:

1)    Own up to your mistakes. Stories abound in the press about leaders, politicians, etc. who cover up their lies and seem surprised when their credibility is lost.  It takes real personal leadership to make yourself vulnerable and disclose your blunders. To be vulnerable is to be strong.

2)    Be generous with your time. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking you’re too busy to meet people for coffee, chat for a few minutes after a meeting or take in the occasional networking event. People want affiliation, so be the one who gives it to them.

3)    Shift your perspectiveTony Schwartz, President of the Energy Project, calls this viewing the world through “a reverse lens.” Sure  we want to get the sales report to the boss as soon as we can, yet when a colleague drops in unexpectedly, reframe the situation as an opportunity to engage and/or influence rather than as an interruption.

4)    Practice reciprocity. If you want people to play in your sandbox, you have to play in theirs from time to time.

5)    Share, don’t hoard Communicate what’s happening (tell what you can).  Start a discussion. Connect like-minded people and even contrarians. Recommend articles, websites, books, etc. Being viewed as a subject matter expert and/or the “go-to” person for ideas boosts both personal and professional connections.

Who will you connect with today?




I’m Kind, Not Stupid

leaders can be kind without being weak“You seemed so nice when we talked, I just figured you wouldn’t mind,” said Allan with more than a hint of exasperation in his voice.

“Really!? You really figured I wouldn’t care you presented my idea to the boss as your own just because I was nice when we spoke?” exclaimed Bea. “What were you thinking?”

I’ve heard similar stories from many a client, especially those striving to be character-based leaders. Unfortunately, it’s a sad fact that far too many people interpret kindness as weakness. Research conducted by Batia M. Wiesenfeld, Naomi B. Rothman, Sara L. Wheeler-Smith, and Adam D. Galinsky found that bosses who treat people with respect and dignity are “seen as less powerful than other managers—less in control of resources, less able to reward and punish—and that may hurt their odds of attaining certain key, contentious leadership roles.”

Individuals wanting to be known as effective leaders are self-aware. They don’t take the same shortcut in stereotypical thinking that Allan did.  They understand that a leader/individual who treats them with kindness is not:

  • a doormat or stupid
  • or a perpetual follower without an opinion
  • a fountain of ideas from which others can freely drink without attribution
  • powerless.

Steve Livingston, a social psychologist, offers this advice. ”Be careful about the assumptions you make about others, even the positive ones. When we fail to do so, at the very least we are losing the opportunity to get to know someone on a more personal — more human — basis. At the very worst, we can inadvertently set up a chain of expectations and misunderstandings that will undermine the relationship itself.”

It’s a paradox of life that we want to be treated with kindness yet treat those who are kind to us without respect.

The next time someone treats you with respect, acts as if you matter, cares what you think or deals with you fairly — in short, treats you with kindness — don’t sell them, or yourself, short by assuming they’re without power or smarts or influence.




Feeling Stuck? 5 Questions to Ask

Are you running with the pack (doesn’t matter which one or where) and not feeling totally satisfied and/or content?  If so, ask yourself:

1) Are things going the direction I want, or am I staying the course because I’m afraid of something? Just what makes me fearful?

2) Am I hanging around because I think it makes me look good to belong? Do I think I don’t measure up on my own? Am I trading self-confidence for protection?

3) Do I believe in what I’m doing, or am I doing it because I think it makes me look hip and trendy? Am I trading internal satisfaction for material symbols of success?

4) Am I settling for stability and safety when what I really crave is something new, something a little edgy, something that’s different?

5) Do I feel this is the only way for me to be powerful? Am I silencing myself or speaking in a voice that’s not mine so I can fit in or be successful or have lots of money or whatever-other-form-that-fear-in-your-head-or-under-the-bed takes?

Life is all about trade-offs and awareness.

If you understand the trade-offs you’re making and for what reason, you’re not stuck anymore. It’s just all part of your bigger plan.

Photo:  The Telegraph



7 Dumb Mistakes Managers Make and What to Do Instead

Today’s guest author is Darryl Rosen, a management coach and trainer. His latest book is Table for Three? Bringing Your Smart Phone to Lunch and 50 Dumb Mistakes Smart Managers Don’t Make!

You glance down at an incoming text while an employee is talking to you. DUMB! Or you bark “Just get it done!” to your team and then walk away. DUMB!

According to a recent CareerBuilder poll, 58 percent of managers received no training before starting the job, which often results in avoidable management missteps like these.

Even smart, well-trained managers make dumb mistakes. But the difference between dumb managers and smart ones is that smart managers notice when their people are unmotivated and uninspired. Smart managers work at making small behavioral changes to correct common management mistakes that impede their performance.

Here are seven dumb mistakes managers make and what to do instead.

1) Assuming they’re paying attention

Just because people are quiet while you tell them how to structure tomorrow’s presentation doesn’t mean they’re actually listening and learning. They could be planning tonight’s menu for all you know. Making sure your people pay attention isn’t their job – it’s yours. Check for understanding. Go around the table to gauge everyone’s grasp of the key expectations. Have each team member verbalize his or her next step. Brainstorm new approaches.

2) Turning their job into an episode of “Survivor”

All the weaklings got kicked off the island, and now you’ve got an ace team that’s talented, smart, and resourceful. So you set steep goals, and say things like “Have at it” or “Get it done.” Soon, though, your “tribe” is looking haggard and anxious. That’s because you threw your great performers to the wolves. Instead, ask them, “What information can I provide to help you achieve this goal? What are the best ways we can succeed?” Let them know you’ll support them along the way and provide the necessary resources to meet the challenge.

3) Using email to avoid a difficult discussion

When potential conflict is involved, it’s easy to send a terse reply rather than make the effort to discuss the issue face-to-face. However, is this the behavior you want to model for your employees? C’mon – be a leader and set an example. First, prepare for the talk. Next, ask yourself how you helped create this problem. When you meet, focus on facts, and don’t make assumptions about the person’s character based on his or her actions. Ask questions, show respect, discuss action steps attached to consequences, and come to a mutual agreement.

4) Turning into the Incredible Hulk

Do you lash out at your people figuring fear will motivate them? Here’s my rule: if you wouldn’t put it that way to your spouse, you shouldn’t say it to your employees. Anything that can be said in a negative manner can also be said in a positive manner. Being yelled at makes people feel worse; it doesn’t energize them. Get in the habit of rephrasing negative statements as encouraging ones: “I won’t listen to another angry supplier because of you guys!” becomes “I know you guys are better than this. What can we do differently?”

5) Walking around naked, without mirrors

Are you like the emperor who wore no clothes? Is anyone brave enough to tell you what you don’t want to know about yourself or the company? If your people are telling you what you want to hear, rather than what you need to hear, it won’t be long before they lose respect for you. Don’t depend on others to reflect back to you. Look in a real mirror. Are you clear about what you expect? Do you share your expectations in a straightforward manner? Can your people count on you to lead them with intelligence, vision, and consistency? Do you hold yourself accountable for everything that happens under you? Don’t forget to reward feedback even when it’s unflattering.

6) Being a helicopter manager

You hover over your employees. Your people stop in several times a day with questions. Your team calls and/or texts you constantly for help in solving problems. You wouldn’t tolerate ten calls a day from your child, so don’t let your employees do it either. Your micromanagement style is making them stupid. Set aside one specific hour a day when they can call or stop by to go over open items, questions, concerns, etc. Let them solve their own problems the rest of the time.

7) Watching their lips move yet hearing nothing

Quick: could you look at every employee and identify each person’s greatest challenge? Uh, do you even know what they do? If the answer is no, you either haven’t asked them lately, or weren’t listening when they told you. Help others feel heard by turning down the volume of your ego and turning up the volume of your listening. When people talk to you, ask them clarifying questions, such as: “What does that mean? Can you be more specific? How did you reach that conclusion?”  Shut up and listen.

Book image courtesy of author



Social Media Has Set the Stage for Leadership – Where Auditions are Always Open and Admission Is Free

This article was submitted by Kaitlyn Nakagoshi on behalf of University Alliance and the University of Notre Dame’s online leadership certificate program.  Kaity is a native Floridian, graduated from the University of South Florida with a B.S. in Management and a B.A. in Political Science, and is currently pursuing a master’s in marketing.

It’s virtually impossible to ignore the ubiquitous nature of social media. From viral videos, to trending tweets, to the Facebook “Like”ing revolution, not only has our ability to connect with each other grown, but so has our need to do so.

With this magnitude comes the necessity to manage social media and align its capabilities with an organizations’ culture and goals. This is where business leaders make their grand entrance. Slowly but surely, business leaders have shifted their opinions about social media from seeing it as an unimportant distraction to discovering its profound opportunities.

The Involvement

Although the trend toward social media marketing has risen within the corporate world, there are still those companies who have yet to implement a strategy. Now is the time for leaders to emerge who will not only push for the use of social media, but will lead the discussion.

If for no other reason, leaders need to embrace social media in an effort to engage with their employees. Today’s employees believe effective leadership communication is the single-most important component of internal communications. Recent survey results also indicate that employees are less likely to leave companies that use social media, and are more likely to recommend the company to others.

With more of the Y generation entering the workforce, the need for social media implementation increases, as this young audience wishes to work for companies that are innovative and on the cutting edge within their industry. Natural social creatures, the younger generations also tend to be a companies’ greatest brand ambassadors.

The Approach

The attitude of a business leader not only affects his or her team members, but the business culture itself. Therefore it is critical that approaching a social media campaign be done with the right frame of mind.

Currently, detailed analysis indicates that most business leaders think of social media as a threat to productivity, having little or no business value. A shift in thinking is critical, and social media must be recognized not only as a platform for change and transparency but an integral part of doing business as well.

Once the mental shift happens, a real culture change can take place within an organization, but only if implemented from the top-down. This means inspiring team members, caring about customers and having a willingness to be transparent and accessible to both, through social media channels.

The Downsides

Performing damage control on social media blunders and customer service complaints is an essential part of the leadership-social media relationship.

One such social media blunder was the case of the disgruntled United Airlines passenger who, after seeing his beloved guitar thrown around until eventually broken on the tarmac, did what any irate passenger would do: he wrote a catchy song and made a video about the incident that went viral.

Carroll, the guitar owner, tried to contact United’s customer service department for nine long months, but to no avail. Reaching a level of frustration incompatible with tranquility, he decided to take Goliath down through creative storytelling and social media. This early PR headache was one of the first to draw attention to the fact that social media empowers customers and should be used to strengthen customer service relations.

Another downside of the social media frenzy is the misunderstanding by some that digital connections can replace personal connections.  Make no mistake; social media is a highly effective way of networking and spreading brand messages, but effective leadership means knowing that nothing can replace real interest, honest communication, and a firm handshake.

The Potential

If you’ve been reticent about incorporating social media into your organization’s culture, the time to strategize is now. Be a leader not only within your own business but within your industry as well.

The best way to get involved both internally and online is to provide real help to people. Find the discussions going on within your industry and lend support and advice whenever possible. Look for ways to engage and connect in person both within your organization as well as in your community.

Social media can seem complicated and overwhelming to many of today’s business leaders. By understanding the real power behind it - the ability to tap into the collective talents of potential employees, associates, clients and prospects to transform their business and drive results – the mystery can be replaced with true value. There is no marketing fairy godmother that is going to come around and sprinkle some social media pixie dust on your brand or company. Someone’s got to step forward and lead the way, in order to solidify a bright and successful future.