I let this hold me back too long...In my adventure as an entrepreneur there is this one thing that has held me back the most in my businesses. I imagine that if it is something that I struggle with, it is something that you might struggle with as well whether you're a business owner or not, it applies in all areas of our lives. And that is taking things personally!! Especially rejection, or no's, or ignores, or criticism, or any of that negative feeling stuff that comes with putting yourself out there.
But what I have learned from many sources over the past few years, one being Don Miguel Ruiz in his book The Four Agreements, is not to take things personally. Seriously, this is the hardest thing for me to do, since my business is selling my services as an expert, I see the no's as a reflection of my competence, credibility, likability, and overall value. Logically I know I have expertise in my chosen field. I went to school for many years for communication, conflict, leadership, and organizational development. Logically I know I add value based on how many people I have helped and continue to help based on their positive feedback, evaluations, referrals and continued business. Despite this knowledge, there is that small part of me that still wants to be liked and takes the no's personally.
But I am working on it! And because I have made the decision to work on this area that has been holding me back, my belief system gets stronger, I take more action, I recover faster from the no's, I talk to myself more positively. Now, when it does creep in I am faster to remind myself of what is true and not true when this mindset issue threatens to hold me back again.
Now my particular issue may not be your issue. But the solution to both of us is the same. First, we have to get clear on what it is that is holding us back from pursuing our highest self, our purpose, our dreams, the desires in our heart. These desires can be personal or business related, but for whatever reason, we haven't pursued them because something in our our belief system or mindset is holding us back. Once we know what is holding us back we can take steps to remove the block and move forward toward our goals!
Now this is easier said than done, which is why we need support. The very best thing I have done or myself personally and professionally is find mentors and coaches who can help me along on this journey. I find this support through books, videos, podcasts, live events and one on one coaching. Since there are so many options for support, there is no excuse to allowing our particular fears or issues to continue to block our dreams and personal growth.
For me personally, working with a coach one on one is the most effective thing that has helped me move faster through my blocks and on to achieving the results that I want in my life and business. And I can tell a HUGE difference in the times that I have had a coach and have not. Because my results are less than stellar personally and professionally on my own, I won't ever go without a coach again!! I believe that strongly in the power of personal coaching. I'm a better me when I have a thinking and accountability partner to get super vulnerable with, without judgement and bias and help me process, overcome and then accomplish. It's really a powerful tool!
I see these breakthroughs in myself and in my clients and it is really cool to get to be a part of helping someone transform their story and go for what they really want. If there is something that you're putting off until 'someday' or you know there is something holding you back from achieving, I would love to work with you. Maybe you're just in need of a thinking partner to help you navigate the daily challenges of leading yourself and others well in your life and business. I can help with that too! Maybe coaching isn't for you right now, and that is ok. But maybe it is!
Now, I know coaching can get pricey, I have hired coaches upwards of $10,000 and I personally know coaches who charge $100,000 for one year of coaching with them. And you know what, they are worth every penny! But I know that is not in everyone's budget. That is why I am offering a spring sale of 25% off on my 3 and 6 month coaching packages through the end of this week. This is the lowest my coaching prices have ever been and will ever be! This is a pretty BIG savings of $500 off my 3 months package and $875 off my 6 months package. Here is a link to read more about my one on one coaching packages: http://annamarieolson.com/workwithme/one-one-coaching/
If you think you are ready to get moving past whatever is holding you back and start achieving what it is you truly want, I'm ready to help you. I offer a complimentary consultation so that we make sure we are a good fit for each other before we get started. If this offer by any means piques your interest, reply to this email to set up your consultation this week! Hurry because the offer ends Sunday, April 3rd.
I will share this one last personal story before I go...when I worked with my first one on one coach, six months to the date that we started I had done everything I said I wanted to do, including moving to the exact beach that I had put picture of up on my vision board. I know without a doubt that I would not have done that, at least not in that amount of time if I hadn't worked with my coach! So what changes do you want to make in the next few months of this year? How likely do you think you are to move past whatever is holding you back and accomplish this change on your own? There is a reason the most successful people in all areas have coaches!
If you're ready, I am here to help! If you're not, that is ok too. I won't take it personally ;)
To your success!
P.S. Maybe this isn't for you right now, but you know someone who is...I would love it if you'd send them my way! Make sure they tell me you sent them and I'll be very happy to send you a special little thank you gift.
I'm finally ready to share about Paraguay...Some of you know I went to Paraguay the first week of February with John Maxwell and 250 other coaches to conduct a country wide initiative called Transformacion Paraguay. We ended up training over 19,000 people in all areas of business, government and community how to facilitate roundtables on leadership values, who will now train 700,000 of their friends, family and colleagues over the next year. How amazing is that!?! It was the highlight of my career so far.
I've been back a few weeks now and I am ready to share my experiences, the good, the bad, and the scary! I needed some time to process and reflect. When they said we would be changed just as much as the people we went to serve, they were not kidding! This is going to be a post than usual, so settle in...
It is hard to put into words the experience of being a part of something so life changing for so many people. It was an honor just to be there and serve alongside so many amazing people from all over the world. John’s vision and heart are so big and real that is seems almost impossible to think of changing the world through developing leaders...until you see it unfolding before your eyes. And to be able to actually help move this vision forward was just humbling and a beautiful experience.
I know it sounds cliche, but the Transformation literally was in me this week! I saw it happening in the stories and gratitude of the people we were serving, but I also experienced it personally. My attitude has had a major adjustment in how I see the world, express gratitude and focus on positivity.
Seeing the Landfill Harmonic Orchestra broke my heart and made me extremely happy at the same time. It was the biggest lesson in gratitude for me. These kids literally live in a trash heap and have taken the garbage the world gives them and turn it into beautiful music! I cried for almost the entire hour that we had the pleasure of listening to them play. And when their teacher told us their stories and showed us how the instruments are made, out of paint cans, drain pipes and old spoons, it is something I will never forget. When they started playing "Imagine"...well, I just totally lost it. I took a video of it and I hope you're moved as much as I am by these amazing kids! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTi-rZ7GIR4
After listening to the kids play, John told us of the music school they are working on finishing and need an additional $50,000 to build it. He asked us in the room if we thought we could do that, which we said absolutely. Then he auctioned off a violin made out of trash to kick off the donations. It started at $1,000 and when it got up to $7K I thought I want to get this on video and see how much he gets for it. Well, I think he missed his calling as an auctioneer...it went for $15,000!!! You can watch a bit of that fun here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4y83GmZR6gU
For the work we were there to accomplish of facilitating and training on roundtables, I got to go to some pretty cool places. The first day was to the National University where John inspired the entire next generation to change their country. I was with him as he modeled being a roundtable participant and spoke to the new deans and encouraged them to be leaders and help change their University. Then he went on to speak to the students and honor them for standing up for what is right. See, last fall they went on strike against corruption at their school. They literally refused to attend classes until something changed and at one point even would not let the deans leave the building until they made some changes. It resulted in the president of the University going to prison and many deans getting fired!! Woohoo!! You can see a video I shot from the back of the room with the students raising their hands when John invited them to step up and lead their country! It was amazing to be in the room that day. I cried...again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvI_HPKXeH4
The second day I went to the Japanese/Paraguayan cultural center where we facilitated roundtables with city employees. And next I went to a tech company of software engineers who were very excited and the CEO and CFO are having the whole company go through the roundtables and the engineers want to share the values with friends and family too! They talked about how they want to help their employees grow as individuals personally and professionally. I was in love with that answer. All super exciting!! Each time I was able to use my Spanish more and more and also had some amazing translators to help us facilitate these trainings. Here are a few pics from those sessions.
BUT then I spent a day in prison. The women of the Buen Pastor prison rocked my world. See, each day we didn't know where we would be going. We knew we were going somewhere, with someone, to do something! Paul, our JMT president would say I need one coach, or ten coaches, we'd come forward, be matched with translators and get into a stranger's car and go to their place of business. This day my business BFF and I wanted to go somewhere together so we waited until one of the times he said I need two coaches and we stepped up. At this point it is around 7am and he says you'll be gone all day to this place instead of going to a few locations, we say fine with us! So it wasn't until we got into the car that we asked where we were going. And it wasn't until we got to the prison that we learned we would not be teaching the staff, but the inmates. I knew then it would be an adventure and so grateful we were together. At the end of the day she grabbed me in the biggest hug and said, there is no one I could have gone to prison with except you!
To say I reached a new level of awareness is an understatement. I heard heartbreaking stories of women who couldn’t name an example of a positive person in their life ever, women who couldn’t read or write, women who had never had anyone believe in them, pour into them or show them a different way of life. Women who had lost all hope for their future, but had a glimmer restored that day. It was clear that transformation was beginning in them. I felt it in their hugs and tears and excitement to share these values, even if they didn’t fully comprehend the process. Some didn’t even know what an attitude was! Melissa and I had to get creative in explaining even the simplest of concepts. Talk about taking a step back and breaking down the material even more...it was not easy to say the least from a facilitators standpoint, but it was my favorite experience of the trip. Even more than the glamorous parties and great fun we had. I have cried a few times since that day just thinking about the prison because of the weight of the situation. It is a day that is forever etched on my heart and mind.
These women have reminded me of my bigger why, my desire to help women all over the world to have more education, resources, rights and opportunities. I want to build up women leaders all over the world! The prison experience really showed me the value of what we do and how much it is needed. I couldn't help but wonder if some of these women had learned these values earlier in life, maybe they would be living a different story. And maybe they can share them with their daughters now and put them on a different path.
Here are some pics of us at the prison..top left was at the beginning of the day when my co-facilitator and I were made up and smiley, the top right was at the end of the day when we were exhausted on every level and sweated off all our makeup! We had been in 100 degrees and no AC, pouring rain, roaches and stray cats, no guard with us, locked in with murderers (luckily didn't know til after, and didn't treat them any different) and still managed to end the day with smiles on our faces. We were so thankful for our two translators, Luis and Ignacio, and Maria Lorenza, the inmate who was clearly in charge and could have made our lives miserable or encouraged women not to participate, but instead was the most helpful and kind and best participant and leader that day.
Now, it wasn't all work and dirty prisons...in the evenings we had some pretty fun experiences too, like being hosted at the US Embassy and having the red carpet, literally, rolled out for us there and at our going away dinner the last night at a golf club!
This is a fun video of our going away party and the traditional Paraguayan dancers giving us a performance. Check out the lady dancing with 10 bottles on top of her head!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pz7fbE2k-Cc&feature=youtu.be
We also were welcomed at the kick off lunch by the best guitar player in Paraguay and if you're into Spanish guitar, check out Rolando Chaparro on iTunes and Facebook. Here is a short clip of him playing for us: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gEVCtDFkNo
In the weeks following this trip, I have a newfound passion for the work that I do and the impact that it can have on people's lives. The gratitude that is pouring in from the people there who are now carrying this work forward is beautiful to witness. I even heard that the mayor fired 400 people for corruption before we even left the country! I wasn't in the room, but I heard that when John spoke at the Congress there was some squirming in the seats as he challenged them to be better leaders, to lead with integrity, stand up against corruption, and to be significant, not just hold a successful title.
The Instagram note from my sweet translator, Luis, is one of the kindest things anyone has every said to me and it was an honor to go to prison with him (pic below). Since then we have kept in touch and I feel I have another little brother for life! He is interested in joining the John Maxwell Team and is going back to the prison to follow up with the director and ask how the women are doing with continuing the roundtables. I just love him and his heart for people!! He definitely has the JMT DNA :)
I know this post is long and rambling, but I really wanted to share because this experience was one of the greatest things I have had the privilege to be a part of and it will not soon be forgotten. I plan on going to all of the other countries that invite us to help transform them, 22 Presidents so far have asked John to do the same for them. It will be my honor to volunteer again, spending my own money and time to travel across the world to add value to people. This is what it means to me to live a life of significance, not just success!!
With that I will close and wish you all a life of significance!
John C. Maxwell and his team of certified international
coaches, volunteers and leaders are converging on Asunción, Paraguay at the invitation of President Horacio Cartes. The special delegation will conduct a national not-for-profit leadership education project known as Transformación Paraguay, under the guidance and development of in-country leaders, Tim and Gabby Teasdale.
Over 260 people are converging in Paraguay, January 29 through February 5, to deliver the proven “Maxwell Round Table Method” to thousands of participants. The powerful Maxwell Round Table Method begins by equipping individuals in a structured process, then radiates from individual to individual for a massive, intentional, viral leadership development effect.
Over the course of five rigorous days, the specially trained delegation will meet with top government, military, education, business, faith and community leaders with one goal in mind: hand over proven tools to the leaders of Paraguay in a structured process for their further leadership development through the power of the values-based Maxwell Round Table Method.
“This is Operation Leadership Liftoff - for Paraguay,” John Maxwell said. “Literally, hundreds of people from all over the world are paying their own way to serve, add value and make a difference in Paraguay. This is how transformation happens - when one person cares enough to take action - when hundreds care enough to take action. The weight of the vision for Paraguay weighs heavily on me, because I know what’s at stake. If the vision doesn’t have weight, it doesn't carry with it the conviction and the authority it needs. The vision must be felt in the heart, not just seen with the eyes. We are fighting for the transformation of lives for the people of Paraguay,” Maxwell added.
Maxwell has been invited to deliver the Maxwell Round Table Method by the leaders of 22 nations. He and a special delegation delivered the method in Guatemala - visits to more countries are in the works.
The Maxwell Round Table Method is straightforward - using a set of leadership values pre-selected by Paraguayans, specially trained John Maxwell Team Members will each host a series of 15 values based round table sessions, totaling nearly 4,000 sessions in all, structured around Maxwell’s newest thinking on Intentional Living. Each member of the round table reflects on how well they embody a particular value (for instance, listening), share briefly, and then make a positive statement about how they will improve that skill in the coming week.
After discussing specific leadership values and how to personally improve upon each, table participants are asked to proactively practice the growth method for one week, then reach out to five members of their community and teach them the same process. Using the Maxwell Round Table Method, it’s estimated 700,000 Paraguayans (10% of the population) will be reached. This process is expected to create a cultural paradigm shift from the top down - and table to table, participant to participant.
One-third of the Paraguayan population lives beneath the poverty line. Leadership in the country has asked for help in training more leaders with a main goal of more responsibility. By equipping leaders through the Maxwell Round Table Method with values-based content for them to teach to others, a revolution of transformational leadership can fast-track a country and help it move forward with confidence.
John C. Maxwell is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, coach, and speaker who has sold more
than 26 million books in fifty languages. In 2014 he was identified as the #1 leader in business by the
American Management Association® and the most influential leadership expert in the world by
Business Insider and Inc. magazine. As the founder of The John Maxwell Company, The John Maxwell
Team, EQUIP, and the John Maxwell Leadership Foundation, he has trained more than 6 million
leaders. In 2015, he reached the milestone of having trained leaders from every country of the world.
The recipient of the Mother Teresa Prize for Global Peace and Leadership from the Luminary
Leadership Network, Dr. Maxwell speaks each year to Fortune 500 companies, presidents of nations,
and many of the world’s top business leaders. He can be found on Facebook and Twitter. For more
information about John visit JohnMaxwell.com.
I'm pretty excited to have been quoted in Inc. Magazine this week as a leadership expert along with several others sharing our best leadership tips!
Here is my excerpt:
"My leadership philosophy is this: whether you are leading yourself or leading others, a little bit of 'why' goes a long way! This means good leaders are clear on the vision, mission, purpose, values for themselves and their business. They are able to inspire others with this why and compel them to join forces with them and be passionate about going on this road together to accomplish that why. It also means the leader is able to connect the why in any situation to any person or employee, when providing corrective feedback they are able to share the impact of why that situation is important and why a different outcome is important in the future. From the janitor to the CFO, the leader can provide a compelling why for how their role fits into the larger picture and contribute in an important way to the overall mission."
Anna Olson, the CEO of AMO Consulting
You can read the entire article here: http://www.inc.com/john-brandon/10-more-leadership-experts-share-their-best-leadership-tip.html?fb_ref=Default
To your success!
I just wanted to share a link to an interview I had recently on The Celebrate Life Show!
Jean Robor was kind enough to invite me on as a guest to share my story on how I decided to leave the corporate world and start my own business and move to a tropical island! In this interview I share my tips on creating the life of your dreams, doing it afraid and leading yourself well.
I hope that you find some value in this! Click on the link to go to listen to a replay of the show: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/jeanbaileyrobor/2015/02/11/celebrate-life-leading-yourself-well-with-anna-olson
The number one thing that women leaders tell me has them stressed out is not having enough time.
Time to work on their businesses, time to work on themselves, time to spend quality time with their loved ones, time for fun.
For many this results in burnout, mommy guilt, poorer quality projects, a constant feeling of being rushed, missing out on fun things with friends or family events and milestones...the list goes on! There is just too much to do, and too little time. I know how you feel and it's not fun!
But it doesn't have to be that way. The truth is, I have just as many hours in the day as Oprah and every other successful person I admire. And so do you.
We can create amazing lives if we choose to lead ourselves and others well. Great leaders understand how to leverage the value of their time and the time of others around them. We have choices to make and multiple options for support, but sometimes we need a little help accessing them and taking back control of our time.
Once I realized that I have the power to control my time, I don't miss out on the important stuff anymore (holidays, weddings, graduations), I have created non-negotiables on my schedule, I have built in time for me, time for the people I love, time for my business, and time for fun.
Ladies, I want you to take back control of your time too! So, I have created a FREE ebook for those of you who would like to find an extra 10-15 hours per week in your schedule to do more of the things you love. A Superwoman's Guide to Rescue Time: Six Steps to Doing More of What You Love
Get your free copy here: http://annamarieolson.com/SuperwomanGuide
With love, Anna
I received a humbling compliment from a dear friend the other day. She said, “When I think of you I think you're fearless, you don't hesitate, you act, you help - if the building is burning and someone is left inside, you're going in after them! She said you are a giver and you always put others needs before your own.” I teared up as she was speaking and I was humbled because I do want to live my life in service to others and I am a person who loves helping and making things better, and it is nice to be acknowledged for that.
BUT...I struggle with this sometimes as well because I can also be too accommodating, too much of a "codependent fixer", not speaking up at times when it is needed, either to a friend, a colleague, an employee, a loved one and even a client. I have done a lot of work on this in recent years, but it's a journey I am still on...how to be pleasant, helpful and accommodating to others and how to maintain my boundaries and take care of my own needs at the same time?
I have a hundred examples of how I’ve violated my own boundaries, let others take advantage, spent a ton of time and money ‘helping’ people (I say ‘helping’ because sometimes I actually needed to step out of the way and not play God). I once spent every last dime of my own money getting a non-profit I volunteered with out of debt and then couldn't pay my own bills! I am proud to say I have come a LONG way over the past few years in this department, but one of the things that has helped me the most is practicing what I preach in choosing how I handle conflicts.
Although I have studied it and taught it in corporate and university settings, and have advanced degrees in communication and conflict, I haven't been the best at handling my own conflicts. I know, right? There is some truth to the saying that we teach what we need to learn... You see, I am a card carrying AVOIDER by nature and ACCOMMODATOR as a close second when it comes to conflict styles, so it has been like building a new muscle, being more self aware and using my knowledge and expertise in my own life. However, once I began to value myself more, be more self aware about what I really wanted out of a conflict situation, assessing my options and CHOOSING the right style for me in that situation, it got easier! I’m not saying it’s always easy...but it is worth it! As a result, I have better relationships (and dropped some of the not so great ones) and my needs are getting met more. But it doesn’t mean I have to stop loving people and being helpful, and once I realized that, I gave myself permission to stand in my own truth. I still don’t do this well all the time, but I have come a LONG WAY BABY!
Ultimately it is a leadership decision - how I lead myself in my own conflicts is how I am influencing others, and for me that is too important to keep going on autopilot! My motto is 'whether you are leading yourself or leading others, a little bit of why goes a long way'. In conflicts I need to know WHY I am upset, what outcomes I want and WHY I want them, that is going to help me make the best decision in that situation. Sometimes I discover some pretty interesting things about myself when I go deeper and ask why.
As the holidays approach, the potential for conflicts and issues increase as we are interacting with a LOT of people - holiday parties, family gatherings, Black Friday crowds and the craziness of shopping and traffic! And how about that line to see Santa?? Are you looking forward to interacting with so many people over the next few weeks or dreading it because of the potential for conflicts? It can be a bit overwhelming and you might feel like you are bracing yourself to head into a storm, hoping to come through on the other side in one piece in January.
BUT it doesn't have to be that way. The beautiful thing about conflict is that we have a choice in how we respond, react, engage and navigate the differences of opinions, little annoyances or huge boundary violations that come our way around this time of year. I want to share with you an audio training and accompanying slideshow on how to handle conflicts by exercising the BEST choice and style for each situation. When we make the best choices for us in conflict situations and seek to understand and be understood, the outcomes can be surprisingly awesome. We can have better communication, stronger relationships, actually get our needs met and create new, more effective ways of interacting with those we love. We can even learn to tolerate and interact pleasantly with those we are not so in love with!
I want you to have a pleasant experience this holiday and feel more in control of how your conflicts end up, and that is why I am offering my Handling Holiday Conflicts course for just $19 this year. That is over 50% off of what I offered it for last season! You will receive access to the audio recording and powerpoint slides to follow along and have notes to refer to in the future. You will also receive a conflict styles assessment to complete before you listen to the audio so that you can be more self aware of your current dominant response. You will learn the nature of conflict, a new way of thinking about conflict, the two questions to ask yourself in each situation and the options available to you for proceeding. You will also learn the different styles you have to choose from, examples of scenarios and how to choose the best style for each situation you encounter.
While you’re spending money on so many things this season, why not invest less than twenty bucks on something that can really help you navigate conflicts, reduce your stress and improve your relationships throughout this holiday season and beyond! You can save the recording and slides to re-listen at your convenience. You can purchase it here and you will receive an email with access to the playback shortly after checking out.
Here's to having a holiday of LESS stress, LESS conflict, MORE fun and MORE good cheer!
Last week we had a lot of great discussion in the comments of an article I wrote on Leading Millennials. I really enjoyed getting to hear your perspectives and experiences with this subject. In light of the comments and suggestions, and because I just like to talk about this stuff, I decided to write another article about the kids who are taking over the workplace (who are not exactly kids anymore and would like to be seen as colleagues)!
As you can glean from the title, I’m covering motivation today. Shout out to Christopher Greene who asked for some more information on motivating and developing millennials. His suggestion got me really excited thinking about the ways that we can motivate millennials and take full advantage of their eager to please attitude. And if you’re thinking, “but I don’t have a budget for motivating people,” the stuff I am suggesting is free or low cost.
1. Give them praise for a job well done
Millennials tend to like to be praised, they grew up in the everyone gets a trophy generation, and this is a part of their eco or ego system now. Before the commenters go crazy on me...I’m NOT suggesting everyone gets a trophy at work. I am however saying that being aware of this higher need for praise is something that leaders can use to motivate their millennial employees. In fact, good leaders are praising everyone who is doing a good job, and doing it on a regular basis, regardless of generational differences...
I know the traditional no news is good news, or only give feedback when you’re “in trouble” (I hate that term) is easier. It takes time and to actually be looking for and to make note of the good stuff people are doing and not just notice when they mess things up! It also helps if you do it more timely than once a year at a formal evaluation. Giving praise and corrective feedback (which they want as well, but that’s another post) closely after the fact will definitely work in your benefit.
Most people like to be told when they are doing a good job, but especially millennials, and millennials will respond with putting forth extra effort and more motivation to receive additional praise. And positive reinforcement actually works better on people than nagging or complaining about someone never getting something right. Letting them know they did something well leads to more of the desired behavior. Also, when you see a positive behavior change, point that out as well! As leaders, we should be lifting up all of our employees with our words, encouraging their positive behaviors and praising good work. (Anyone ever tried this at home with your husband, wife, kids?? What works better there? Probably not the nagging, only pointing out flaws bit!)
2. Ask for their help with innovation, make it a little competitive and fun
Millennials like to come up with new ways of doing things, and they like to win at games and science fairs, and score well on tests and show they are smart and capable. And guess what? They really are pretty freaking smart and capable! This is one of the most educated generations to date and they have and an innate curiosity and a ‘let’s figure this outness’ to them that can be a huge asset to an organization. They are questioning the status quo anyway, so why not use it to your advantage!
If you are looking to develop some new ways of doing things, put out a hip new innovative service, find a way to use technology better in a certain area, look for ways to become more efficient, or ways to save money, put some millennials on it. And make it fun! Create a competition, let them name their teams, let them wear whatever they want, order in takeout, give them a space to relax, create and see what they come up with. Talk about motivation! These millennials will light up with excitement at the chance to be given the opportunity to show you what they got, contribute to the organization in a meaningful way and have fun with each other while doing it - they also enjoy collaboration. Let the winning team present it to the top leaders, this opportunity for face time with them will be seen as a reward in itself, but you should also throw in some sort of actual prize as well...
A good leader would provide this opportunity with a clear vision and purpose in mind for the organization, what outcomes they are looking for and then set them loose with some boundaries and parameters in place. It would also be beneficial to put someone more seasoned with the company on each team or at least at their disposal to ask questions and for some guidance regarding institutional history and a little supervision, BUT not to run the show or stifle the creativity!!
Even if it isn’t a big project or you’re not that brave, millennials are motivated by being given opportunities to have their ideas heard so any small opportunities to do so are motivating. They like to solve problems and contribute to the greater good of the organization in ways that are beyond the scope of work in their position of just delivering the mail, or being the receptionist... At my old job, many of the suggestions we received through our employee suggestion program, and most of the ones that were accepted and implemented came from millennials!
P.S. There are a lot of people in your company that have good ideas and would like opportunity to be heard as well, not just the millennials. Good leaders are always asking great questions, listening to what their people say and providing avenues for them to share their feedback, suggestions and ideas with upper management. The people closest to the work are usually pretty knowledgeable about how to make improvements or implement a change! Open doors and open ears policies are good to have as a leader.
3. Give them some flexibility
I saved the controversial one for last! This is one that I know is going to get some pushback. But please hear me out first... Millennials live pretty active lives and they have many interests and commitments outside of their job. Even if their commitments don’t seem as important as yours, they are still important to them. Their plans are always changing and they thrive on it and enjoy the opportunity to live a flexible lifestyle. They don't want to put in a vacation day four weeks in advance in order to leave early on Friday and go to the beach for the weekend with friends, be at their daughter’s Valentine’s day party, or leave work early one afternoon to go volunteer feeding the homeless.
Even though we all secretly want it, this generation more than any other has stepped up and demanded a work life balance. However, it does not mean that they do not still have a strong work ethic or desire to work hard and make a contribution to the company. They just want to do it from their laptops at night after the 4pm yoga class or their kid’s soccer game and on Sunday afternoon when they have some down time. These millennials will actually put more work hours in when they are not constricted to a Monday through Friday, must have butt in cubicle to be seen as working, 9 to 5 environment. If there is any opportunity at all in your organization to allow for flexible work hours, this is one of the ways to get the most out of and motivate your millennial employees. I understand that this does not work in every business model and it is not possible for some industries to do it at all, but there are ways to take baby steps.
Good leaders will have measures in place to make sure that the work is being accomplished and that there are accountability and communication processes that make it possible to work remotely. I worked for a boss once who was more focused on outcomes than when and how the work got done, and it made me appreciate her trust in my abilities and me. It was very motivating and I worked extra hard and much more than if I was locked into my desk all day and only working 9-5. Millennials have a work hard, play hard mentality and if you allow them some flexibility, the ‘work hard’ part of them will work in your favor!
Again, this is not just good advice for leading millennials, it’s a good leadership practice that all employees will appreciate and it is the way our world is moving to a more flexible, global way of operating. In the past two weeks, I have met with people over Skype in South Africa, France, Australia, and the US, all from my spot on the beach in Puerto Rico. Most people like being able to have the freedom to work from wherever. I know I sure do! But it doesn’t have to be as extreme as my example, many employees would appreciate just being able to go to a doctor’s appointment during the day without putting in for one hour of sick or vacation, and then going back to work for one hour before fighting traffic... They could just go home, make up the work there and then go about their business. You get the point!
So this turned long again...and I didn’t even cover everything that I could have. I will have to write motivating millennials part two. Sorry, Joan! I still have not gotten that good at using economy of language that my professor in grad school used to ask me for so often.
If you noticed from my not so subtle hints, these suggestions really don’t just apply to millennials, sure they have opened up the conversation for us, but people tend to be motivated by more than just money or power or some of the stereotypical things we think. Don’t believe me, check out this video by Dan Pink that talks about what economists at MIT and other smart people found really motivates people is autonomy, mastery and purpose.
If you got to the end of this and you would like to learn more about Leadership for the Next Generation, I am hosting a free webinar, where I talk and you don’t have to read all these words. I’d love it if you join us on Monday, October 27th at 1pm EST. We will be covering hiring, training, culture and of course, leadership! This is for you if you’re leading millennials or if you are a millennial. If you want to attend, but already have plans at that time, go ahead and sign up and you will receive the replay link in your email.
Full disclosure, I will also be providing a short overview of an eight week online course that goes much deeper into these topics. But the webinar is NOT a sales pitch! I will be sharing valuable, actionable steps totally for free, and at the end give you a short, 2 minute explanation of the course. (Before you get mad that I am teaching a class for money, please understand that I am still running a business and like to eat - a lot - and pay my bills on time). If you don’t want to join us for the free webinar or paid class, it’s cool, we can still be friends, and you can still read my blogs and articles and get plenty of value for free.
Tell me if you like these tips, found them helpful, agree as a millennial, think I’m crazy or have a difference of opinion! Also, add to the list if you'd like and I will include your advice in part two.
When I was doing leadership development at my old job, one of the courses I taught was titled 'Managing Millennials' and it was one of the most popular. It was always full and the participants were the most engaged and talkative group. Why? Because they were struggling! Some of the issues they came to me with were - these kids don't get that they can't climb the ladder overnight, they need to wear suits and ties, they should get here early and stay late, they should pay their dues like I did, they are too casual and not 'professional', they are always asking me questions, they have tattoos, they want to know if they can do some work from home at night so they can take two hours in the day for a yoga class, they are always making suggestions for new things to do or change something old, they always want feedback....I could go on. I understand the frustration these leaders had with the differences in belief systems about life and work and the overall boldness of the millennials they managed, but the truth is, this is who is going to be running the show and are in many cases already. So, what can you do to keep your sanity and to develop these kids into great leaders?
The good news is, there is hope and this is an exciting time full of possibilities. The bad news is, it will take some adjustments on your part. You see, the 'old school' styles of managing are just not working in today's world. Leaders are what is really needed, not just managers. And leaders invest in growing other leaders. Managers manage things and tasks and policies, leaders influence people. There is a lot of opportunity to mentor and to grow our organizational cultures and businesses with employees who we see have potential, but may need some grooming, like the millennials. Like it or not these kids are here to stay and we can choose to invest in growing them and teaching them, while holding them accountable, or complain about them and fire them without trying to train first. Many times they don't know what they don't know. I know I wasn't the most professional doctor's assistant starting out back in the day, I was late and I called my boss "dude" a few times (on accident, slipped out) when I was 18, and she was a well respected surgeon...fortunately she didn't fire me! I worked there for 7 years, and I could do every job in the place, except surgery. She taught me a lot and we are friends to this day. Blame parents (some of you are those parents), blame technology, blame youth (regardless of the decade), but the reality is they are here to stay, and many do have some amazing talent and qualities that we can develop and truly benefit and learn from.
Some of the issues managers brought up to me about their 'kids' could be answered with the same advice: First, ask A LOT of questions! Why does she want to work there? Why was he late? What is her philosophy around time? What are his career goals? Why did she address her boss that way? What was her thinking behind this suggestion? What was his decision making process behind that 'mistake'? Get super curious about where they are coming from. Listen, then, give them your feedback. In instances where there is a correction that needs to be made, first ask questions, then give them your assessment of the situation. If there are some things she is doing well, compliment her skills and give her the praise she needs and deserves (this is a high need for millennials). Then explain in detail the specific actions and observations that you have made so far and how they were in violation of your standards. Then explain the 'why' for the standards that you expect, explain what is the impact that it has on the rest of the team, work getting done, culture, etc when he is late (or whatever the case is) and why it is important. Also, maybe have a discussion around time and working hours. If the issue is around time and there are flexible options, discuss those and the accountability measures and communication practices that need to be in place to make sure that the work gets done. And for some of the work practices that are in place, I usually advise leaders to really ask themselves why we have this policy in the first place, and if there is room for improvement, elimination or more flexibility. Many times policies, procedures and cultural norms are in place in organizations just because 'that's the way we've always done it' or because it was developed as a reaction to a one time offense many years ago. And that just doesn't cut it in today's world!
Please don't misunderstand, I do not condone coddling and I have fired people and recommended many people get fired, that used to be part of my job. What I am saying is that we need to lead, train and mentor people who have potential. And many millennials have loads of potential, but need some good mentoring and training! Not everyone worked in high school and college or was taught professionalism at home. I do know there are some people, millennials and more mature employees alike, who do not do their jobs, do not pull their weight, do not have good work ethic and cause trouble within the group. To those who are leading this type of employee I say cut them out of your team like a cancer! Their attitude will spread and infect others or cause resentment. And many times the manager who isn't paying attention, letting this employee slide and not taking care of other team members who end up doing all the work, needs to go be let go too. I used get called the Bobs from Office Space when I was in OD because I recommended a lot of people 'find their happiness elsewhere.' Ultimately it is always a leadership issue. If your employee had a bad attitude, bad work ethic or doesn't have the skills needed, I would say cut your losses now and find someone else. But for the most part, we will serve our organizations well if we invest the time to mentor and develop these millennials.
I was just at an event where my mentor John Maxwell spoke about his new book 'Good Leaders Ask Great Questions' and I came away with the inspiration to write on this subject in regards to mentoring and how we all can use continuous mentoring, regardless of where we are in our careers. I recorded a short video below with some questions to ask a mentor and I would encourage you to invite someone you admire to lunch very soon and ask them these questions. Also, share it with a millennial you work with and maybe even offer to be the person they as these questions of over lunch sometime!
But let’s back up just a minute and talk about hiring the right person to begin with! Hiring for cultural fit, growth potential, behavioral attributes and passion for the mission of the company are in my opinion more important than hiring for skills. I can think of a personal example when I made the mistake of hiring someone who didn’t “get it” and wasn’t passionate about our purpose and it was one of my biggest leadership mistakes to date. And I fully expect to make more, it is the nature of being human. Despite the bad hire, I learned a valuable lesson, so it wasn’t a failure! This is a much larger topic and I will save it for a blog post at another time.
Tell me your stories about millennials, experiences as a millennial, ask questions and share advice in the comments! I would love to hear from you!
A few days ago I had the great opportunity to spend five days with John C. Maxwell and my fellow leadership coaches and the John Maxwell Team faculty. A few of us who are in a mentorship program spent one day with him watching the movie Braveheart and uncovering the leadership principles in the movie. (Side note: can ya’ll believe that movie came out in 1995?? Almost twenty years goes by fast. I remember watching it with my dad as a teenager and really loving it and talking about the passion that William Wallace had for his people as a leader. My dad was an amazing leader himself who I was blessed to learn from in the first 19 years of my life. I wish he was still here.)
So fast forward to present day and I got to watch it again, this time with the #1 leadership guru in the world, John Maxwell. So many great discussions happened in that day that I cannot cover it all here, but I want to share the biggest takeaway that I took from the experience and the leadership lessons from the movie.
First, here is brief overview of what Braveheart is about - William Wallace is the main character who leads a grass roots revolution in Scotland against England in the 13th century. He begins with just a few followers that turns into a revolution and although he sacrifices his life for the cause, the momentum he started continued and the Scots continue to fight and win their freedom. There is a lot more in the plot and and the fight scenes are pretty gruesome, so beware weak stomachs, but there is some amazing dialogue and really great story telling in this film. I cried off and on throughout the whole movie because of the passion, dedication and servant leadership Wallace showed in the film. I couldn’t even talk with my table mates about my takeaways for at least five minutes because I was still crying. Now on to the lessons I learned from the experience and movie...
Leaders Evaluate Life
The thing that John did so masterfully at the end was engage us by asking our individual takeaways, what we thought was the #1 most important leadership lesson from the movie. Mine was: Leadership is about sacrifice and service to people, especially your people. This is important to note because this activity got us exercising our thinking skills to evaluate what we had just experienced in a meaningful way and how it translates into daily life. This is something that he encouraged us to do as leaders on a daily basis: at the end of each day, spend 10-15 minutes evaluating the lessons you have learned from the day. Do a daily debrief and think into what the day has taught you and how you will apply the new learning to your life. Leaders evaluate life.
Transformational Leaders Inspire Others
After we each stated our individual takeaways at our tables, we synthesized our responses to one response from our table. Then we broke for lunch and John spent his lunch break compiling 25 table’s responses into a few themes and created one sentence with the biggest lessons from the movie. Those themes were: sacrifice, cause, passion, legacy, courage = transformational leadership.
“Transformation that endures requires a leader to possess a calling that gives clarity, a cause that instills courage and a moral authority that influences others.” He then elaborated...Moral authority is when your walk and talk match, which is different than positional authority. Moral authority doesn’t require a title. Wallace didn’t have a title, he wasn’t even a noble, he just led by example. Wallace’s calling was leadership, but his cause was freedom. The cause of freedom gave him and his followers passion and courage, enough to sacrifice their lives for it. This along with his greatest asset, his mind, gave him influence. He was able to think into how to win battles and strategize, and inspire others to follow him, eventually transforming his country.
Wallace was a great leader, but he did make mistakes along the way. Some of those lapses in leadership and judgement ended up getting him killed. We discussed at length all the leaders in the film and their greatest assets and weaknesses, but I won’t cover all of it here. I will say the movie is well worth your time to watch it, maybe with your leadership team, and do a deep debrief. I took away a list of questions to ask myself in order to become a better leader. These questions might be of help to you too in your journey of leadership development.
Have you seen the movie? If so, I’d love to hear your biggest leadership lessons you learned from the film!
P.S. The movie was heavy, but John likes to have a good time....He dressed up for the occasion!
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