Leadership is defined as “the action of leading a group of people or an organization”. However, I believe that good leadership means leading ourselves first! For women, the leadership roles that we take on – by choice, by chance, or by necessity – can be both rewarding and overwhelming. The rewards are pretty obvious; successful business ventures, happy relationships, growing families and close friends. These things can all be overwhelming, too. Let’s face it, they all involve real work on some level and they all need your consistent involvement.
As we move through our day-to-day responsibilities we often lose ourselves in the needs of those we lead and serve. Think about it: when was the last time you postponed something that you needed or wanted and instead invested your time and energy in your family or business? Did you skip your workout to schedule a last-minute meeting? Stay up late so you could catch up on emails? Cancel plans to meet a deadline? Put off a hair appointment for a kid's soccer game? Hey, it happens, we all do it. But when it starts to happen more often than not, you need to look at what you’re really sacrificing.
Oxygen Mask on YOU First
As women, we face a unique set of challenges in leadership, both in the business world and at home. We are expected to find a work/life balance that meets the needs of our clients and families and still allows us to have a life away from the needs of others. You remember that “life", right? Dinner with friends, that hobby you love, time to pamper yourself…whatever it is the rejuvenates you? If you forgot, it’s probably because that is the first thing to go when things get busy or stressful at work or at home. And as leaders, it can be difficult to find a way to manage stress that doesn’t create yet another time-management conflict. What if I told you that you can, and should, carve out the time you need to keep yourself mentally and physically well? In fact, your business and your personal life can benefit from your well-being. The reason they tell you on the airplane to put the oxygen mask on yourself first applies in our day to day lives as well, if we can't lead ourselves well, we are not going to be able to lead others well.
Communication is Key
Another huge factor in good leadership success is effective communication. Your verbal communication skills are obviously very important. The success of your life hinges on your ability to communicate your ideas, plans, and goals in an effective manner. However, communication is more than the conveyance of words. We communicate verbally and non-verbally and the better we are at creating shared meaning with those we lead, the more success we can have. Learning how to effectively communicate with colleagues, employees, family members and friends can help you simplify your life by cutting down on misunderstandings. It can also help you increase efficiency at work and is a very important part of successful conflict resolution.
Help is Here!
Finding that balance between the things that need to be done and the things you would like to do can be difficult - this is where I can help you. My Leadership Retreat for Women is a unique opportunity for you to learn how to lead yourself well – body, mind and business. Discover why it is so important to take care of yourself, learn new leadership skills and how your well-being can positively impact your leadership experience - and have FUN! Meet like-minded women and learn, together, new skills to improve your life and business in a relaxing environment. Forget about boring conference rooms and Power Point presentations. As we work through this two-part weekend, we will be on the beach, poolside, on a catamaran and at the spa. The first part of the retreat will focus on evaluating how you take care of yourself and implementing plans for growth and development. During the second half of the retreat, we will work on improving our communication, conflict resolution and interpersonal skills as leaders.
Click here for more information or to complete the application for the retreat. Space is extremely limited; don’t miss your chance to take part in this unique approach to self-development. Guys, don't worry, there is something for you coming up soon as well, so stay tune! In the meantime, pass this along to a women in your life who needs to reconnect with herself.
QUIT! Stop, give up, give in to critics and take no for an answer. However you put it, quitting is the best way to ensure you won't succeed. The best way to succeed is to keep going! Even when it's tough. Even when the odds seem to be against you. When it feels like your whole life is full of rejection, keep going!
If there is anything I have learned on this roller coaster ride that is the road to entrepreneurship, it is to not give up. If you're pursuing a dream, working on a hobby that you want to turn into a business, writing your first book or just striving to be better at something - the key to getting good at it is to not quit. This applies to any goal you're trying to achieve, personal and professional. We all have the same amount of hours in the day, it is our choice on how we use them. When pursuing a difficult goal, giving up will usually cross our minds - because it is HARD! It requires work, discipline and sacrifice, but if you want it bad enough it is totally worth it.
Here are a few tips to help you keep going:
1. Write down specifically what you want to achieve and more importantly - WHY. Keep that greater reason front and center in your mind and in your decision making. That way, when giving up seems to be an option, you can make the choice based on your greater goal as opposed to just how you feel in the moment.
2. Keep a record of your progress. It is easy to focus on the negative, and forget all the positive things and little wins we have had along the way to a greater goal. All the baby steps matter; document them, celebrate them and use them as motivation to not give up.
3. Get support! Find people who believe in you and your dream, even when you don't. It could be joining a group of people in the same situation as you and encouraging each other and learning from each other, finding a close friend who can act as an accountability partner who lovingly checks in on you to remind you of your goals and your why and asks for updates, or hiring a professional coach to help you meet your goals and make progress.
There are multiple cliches and motivational quotes that I could bring up here.... But one of my favorites is found in the wisdom of Dory from the movie Finding Nemo - "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming!" I hope you get this song stuck in your head and repeat it to yourself when you feel like giving up! What are you swimming towards? I'd love to hear about your goals and dreams in the comments.
Hey friends, it has been a while. After a long trip, and a lot of work on getting my businesses into gear I am back and ready to focus. So, I thought what better to write about than that... This is just as much for me as it is for you!
Detail planning, to do lists, focusing on one thing at a time - these are not my strength areas. Big picture plans, dreaming, visioning, I got that down! It's the details in the doing where I get lost. Overwhelmed. Stuck in analysis paralysis. Even deciding what to blog about was leading me down that road...So I decided to write about just that.
Some days I feel like there are so many things I need to do that I just can't seem to decide what to do first and where my attention needs to be. I lack FOCUS. Next thing I know, the day is gone, yet I haven't accomplished much of what I wanted to because I have jumped from one thing to the next and have not given the time and attention to the most important thing for that day. I realize this issue or flaw of mine is too important to ignore and if I want to lead a better life, help others become better and live a better story, I need to get focused in order to add value to more people.
Fortunately for me, there are people who have been there, done that and came up with a solution. I found just such a resource yesterday from one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller. What I like about this resource is the positivity built into the structure. I like that it sets you up for wins and includes your guiding purpose front and center every day. I also like the flexibility because I am by nature not very structured. This tool provides needed structure to be productive, but in my own way. I am taking the 30 day challenge to increase my productivity and work on my FOCUS! Click here to get the (FREE) tool.
Is this something you struggle with too? Please share in the comments what has helped you get focus and be more productive!
Are you one those people who never feels like you have enough hours in the day to get everything done? One of the most common things I hear people say is "I would do xyz if I had more time." Or I don't have time to workout, using a personal excuse, but the truth is not that I don't have time, reality is I don't make time.
As I listened to a good friend and mentor, Jon Harrison, discuss his leadership tips last week, one thing I noticed that he does is put in the time to lead. He gives people the gift of his time. It is way too common in our businesses for leaders to say I am too busy to make time for the front line people, or get to know Joe in the basement working on the system that keeps our facility heated and cooled. But the message that this can send to those front line people is, I am too important to care about little old you. By not spending time with these people we are saying your job is not significant enough for me to get to know you as a person, what you need to do your job well or how I can support you, until something goes wrong, you mess up or I need you. Then I can yell at you without even knowing your name. This may sound like an exaggeration, but I promise you it happens every day across industries.
What the best leaders know is that giving the gift of your time, even looking at it as an investment, will pay dividends on the back end. Taking the time to really learn what all the job functions are in your organization and listening to what people need from you to do these jobs well pays off in employee engagement and productivity. More importantly getting to know them as people, as mothers and fathers and golfers and artists outside of work, will create relationships that develop a loyalty that cannot be bought by an extra dollar an hour by the competition. It's also just the right thing to do!
On some level we all know this is true, but back to the original I don't have time excuse...my response is make time! Build it into your calendar, daily, weekly, whatever that looks like. Schedule a block of walking around time getting to know people at all levels. Build in weekly face to face, one on one time with direct reports to find out what they need from you to do their best, whether it is resources and support in doing their work or how to best lead them and communicate with them. One thing Jon did that showed his 700 employees he cared about them was take the time to write a personalized birthday card to each and every one of them. In order to make it personal, he had to know who they were to begin with. I worked for James Lee Witt for a number of years and his open door policy, was the real deal, he was transparent and available to all of us at our small firm, but also when he was director of FEMA he had a full day each week when anyone at any level could come talk to him about anything.
What about you? What do you do to give the gift of your time to people? How do you invest in the lives of those you lead? You could lead a small team, a huge organization, a family or just yourself. Please share your tips and insights in the comments. Also, if you want to learn more from Jon Harrison on this, you can download his book, The Front Line Factor, in iTunes.
P.S. I don't only read books by guys named Jon, with no 'h', just happens the last two posts mentioned the two I do! ;)
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